Humanities Symposium 2017

Humanities Symposium image

The humanities in higher education are in the midst of a time of change and opportunity in this environmentally and politically challenged, highly technological, and globalized age.

This symposium aims to foster a meaningful debate about the nature, scope, and future direction of the humanities. We want to create opportunities to build effective and enduring partnerships that will enrich humanities research and foster further exploration of new directions for scholarly work.

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Thursday March 9
9 am to 1030 am, Sheldon Museum

Welcome and keynote

Humanities in the 21st Century

Leon Botstein, Bard College

1045 am to 12 pm, Love Library

Concurrent discussions

Humanities in the Contemporary World

Humanities, Social Justice and Civic Engagement

12 pm to 130 pm


Lunch on your own. Here are some places to eat in Lincoln.

130 pm to 230 pm, Sheldon Museum


Humanities Crossing Borders

Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin-Madison

245 pm to 4 pm, Sheldon Museum

Concurrent Discussions

Science, Religion and Philosophy

Humanities and Human Migration

430 pm to 530 pm


Hope in the Invisible Humanities

David Palumbo Liu, Stanford University

Friday March 10
9 am to 10 am, Sheldon Museum


Who are the Humanities For?

Rita Charon, Columbia University

1015 am to 1130 am, Love Library

Concurrent discussions

The Public Humanities

Humanities and Medicine

1130 am to 1 pm


Lunch on your own. Here are some places to eat in Lincoln.

Optional lunch: New Directions in Humanities Teaching

1 pm to 2 pm


Humanities and Global Issues

Anthony AppiahNew York University

215 pm to 315 pm

Concurrent discussions

Humanities and Human Rights

Humanities and the Environment

330 pm to 5 pm

Closing panel

Fostering Research in the Humanities

Saturday March 11
Time TBA Location TBA

Post-symposium workshop

Future Careers for PhD’s in the Humanities

Historical illustration of D.C.

Lithograph of Finley Hospital, Washington D.C., 1864. Part of the Civil War Washington project. Read more


Notebook art on campus

“Torn Notebook” by Claes Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen, 1996, painted stainless steel, steel and aluminum.



Concert in downtown Lincoln Nebraska


Leo Botstein Humanities in the 21st Century

Leon Botstein,
Bard College


Leon Botstein is a Jewish-American conductor, scholar, and the President of Bard College. Botstein is the music director and principal conductor of the American Symphony Orchestra (ASO) and conductor laureate of the Jerusalem Symphony Orchestra (JSO), where he served as music director and principal conductor from 2003-2010. He is also the founder and co-Artistic Director of the Bard Music Festival.

He is a member of the Board of Directors of The After-School Corporation, a nonprofit organization dedicated to expanding educational opportunities for all students. He also serves as the Board Chairman of the Central European University.

Botstein’s unique position as a leading music scholar, performer, and founder and coartistic director of the Bard Music Festival have enabled him to have an extraordinary impact on both music scholarship and performance.

Bard has developed several innovative graduate programs and research institutes, including the Milton Avery Graduate School of the Arts, the Levy Economics Institute which began offering a Masters of Science in Economic Theory and Policy in 2014, the Center for Curatorial Studies and Art in Contemporary Culture, the Bard Center for Environmental Policy, the Bard College Conservatory of Music, the ICP-Bard Program in Advanced Photographic Studies in Manhattan, the Master of Arts in Teaching Program (MAT), the Bard College Clemente Program, and the Bard Graduate Center in Manhattan. The Bard Prison Initiative provides a liberal arts degree to incarcerated individuals (Prison education) in five different prisons in New York State, and currently enrolls nearly 200 students. Since federal funding for prison education programs was eliminated in 1994, the BPI is one of only a small number of programs in the country of its kind.

Elliot Sober Humanities Crossing Borders

Elliott Sober,
University of Wisconsin-Madison


Elliott Sober is Hans Reichenbach Professor and William F. Vilas Research Professor in the Department of Philosophy at University of Wisconsin–Madison. Sober is noted for his work in philosophy of biology and general philosophy of science. He has served as the president of both the Central Division of the American Philosophical Association and the Philosophy of Science Association. He was president of the International Union of History and Philosophy of Science (Division of Logic, Methodology, and Philosophy of Science) from 2012 until 2015.

One of Sober's main fields of research has been the subject of simplicity or parsimony in connection with theory evaluation in science.

Sober also has been interested in altruism, both as the concept is used in evolutionary biology and also as it is used in connection with human psychology. Sober has been a prominent critic of intelligent design. He also has written about evidence and probability, scientific realism and instrumentalism, laws of nature, the mind-body problem and naturalism. Sober's The Nature of Selection: Evolutionary Theory in Philosophical Focus (1984) has been instrumental in establishing the philosophy of biology as a prominent research area in philosophy.

David Palumbo Liu Hope in the Invisible Humanities

David Palumbo Liu,
Stanford University


David Palumbo-Liu’s fields of interest include social and cultural criticism, literary theory and criticism, East Asian and Asia Pacific American studies. His most recent book, The Deliverance of Others: Reading Literature in a Global Age (Duke, 2012) addresses the role of contemporary humanistic literature with regard to the instruments and discourses of globalization, seeking to discover modes of affiliation and transnational ethical thinking; he is also co-editor with Bruce Robbins and Nirvana Tanoukhi of Immanuel Wallerstein and the Problem of the World: System, Scale, Culture (Duke, 2011).

Palumbo-Liu is most interested in issues regarding social theory, community, race and ethnicity, justice, globalization, ecology, and the specific role that literature and the humanities play in helping us address each of these areas. 

He is the founding editor of Occasion: Interdisciplinary Studies in the Humanities (found on Arcade) and writes for The Nation, The Guardian, Salon, Huffington Post, TruthOut and The Boston Review. He is also a Contributing Editor for the Los Angeles Review of Books and on the HASTAC (Humanities, Arts, Science & Technology Alliance and Collaboratory) Advisory Committee and the Academic Steering and Advocacy Committee of the Open Library of the Humanities. Palumbo-Liu is also the founding director of the collaboration. He is the Second Vice-President of the American Comparative Literature Association and on the Executive Council of the Modern Language Association.

Rita Charon Who are the Humanities for?

Rita Charon,
Columbia University


Rita Charon is Professor of Clinical Medicine and Director of the Program in Narrative Medicine at the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons. A general internist with a primary care practice in Presbyterian Hospital, Dr. Charon took a Ph.D. in English when she realized how central is telling and listening to stories to the work of doctors and patients.

She directs the Narrative Medicine curriculum for Columbia's medical school and teaches literature, narrative ethics, and life-telling, both in the medical center and Columbia's Department of English.

She is currently Principal Investigator on an NIH project to enhance the teaching of social science and behavioral science in medical schools.

Her work in narrative medicine has been recognized by the Association of American Medical Colleges, the American College of Physicians, the Society for Health and Human Values, the American Academy on Healthcare Communication, and the Society of General Internal Medicine. She is the recipient of a Rockefeller Foundation Bellagio Residence and a John Simon Guggenheim Fellowship.

Anthony Appiah Humanities and Global Issues

Anthony Appiah,
New York University


Kwame Akroma-Ampim Kusi Anthony Appiah is a British-born Ghanaian-American philosopher, cultural theorist, and novelist whose interests include political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind, and African intellectual history. Kwame Anthony Appiah has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Philosophical Society and was inducted in 2008 into the American Academy of Arts and Letters; and he has served on the boards of the PEN American Center, the National Humanities Center and the American Academy in Berlin.  

In January 2014 he took up an appointment as Professor of Philosophy and Law at New York University, where he teaches both in New York and in Abu Dhabi and at other NYU global centers.


College of Arts and Sciences

Office of the Chancellor

Office of Research and Development

Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

Department of Classics and Religious Studies

Department of Communication Studies

Department of English

Department of History

Department of Modern Languages and Literatures

Department of Philosophy

Harris Center for Judaic Studies

Institute for Ethnic Studies

Medieval and Renaissance Studies Program