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January 19, 1998

UC celebrates 10th anniversary of Humanities Initiative

By Barbara McKenna

UC is holding a yearlong celebration of the humanities to commemorate the 10th anniversary of the Humanities Initiative, an effort that has provided more than $20 million in funding for humanities programs and fellows throughout the system.

The celebration will feature more than 20 special anniversary events systemwide to showcase the humanities, culminating in a conference titled "Humanities Matters" at UC Irvine on April 2, 1998. Two events are planned by UCSC groups; for further details on the UCSC events, see below. For systemwide events, visit the anniversary website.

Since it was implemented, the initiative has helped the university to attract top scholars and students to UC campuses, strengthening UC humanities programs. In its last report, the National Research Council ranked 33 UC humanities graduate degree programs among the nation's top 20 programs by discipline for quality of faculty; of these, 17 ranked in the top 10.

According to humanities dean Jorge Hankamer, the initiative is significant in a number of ways. "We have seen humanities programs throughout the system strengthened in the caliber and depth of programs they offer because of this venture. This is a fairly unique initiative on the part of the University of California, and an important declaration that humanities research is essential to the university's educational mission."

"Creativity, vision, and critical thinking are at the heart of the humanities," UC President Richard C. Atkinson said. "Many of our best and brightest thinkers in all varieties of careers, including scientists, doctors, lawyers, and engineers, have benefited from the humanities, as have all the university's graduates. We take great pride in this extraordinary program and UC's achievements in the humanities over the past 10 years."

The initiative, begun in 1987, was developed by then-UC President David P. Gardner as a call to strengthen the humanities and its disciplines throughout the university. The initiative is a four-part program which has provided funding for faculty research fellowships, graduate student fellowships, campus-based organized research, and the Humanities Research Institute, located on the UC Irvine campus. It has benefited more than 200 faculty members and 300 students and resulted in the creation of numerous publications and community projects.

All celebration events are open to the public, particularly high school students. "Community outreach is an important component of the celebration," said Gary Lease, chair of the President's Advisory Committee on Research in the Humanities and professor of history of consciousness at UCSC. "We want to share our work and increase public awareness of what we do as humanists, as well as stimulate the interest of young people who may one day study at UC."

Through the UCSC campus, the following events will be offered:

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