LAWRENCE—The Hall Center for the Humanities has received the Midwestern Association of Graduate Schools’ (MAGS) 2015-2016 Award for Excellence and Innovation in Graduate Education for its initiatives in applied humanities aimed at providing University of Kansas humanities graduate students with an extensive range of opportunities to learn more about pursuing careers beyond the professoriate in the nonprofit or public humanities arena.
The Hall Center’s Applied Humanities Initiative was designed to address the challenge of an increasingly tight academic job market in the humanities by demonstrating that the research, writing and critical thinking abilities honed through years of graduate study in the humanities can be applied to achieve satisfying careers in libraries, archives, museums, cultural institutions, arts groups, foundations, public broadcasting and a host of nonprofits. Programs also offer practical advice on how to obtain these jobs.
The initiative comprises interactive panel discussions and networking sessions with leaders from Kansas City-area arts and humanities organizations that take place during the school year as well as paid internships for humanities graduate students in the summer.
It also includes a weeklong total immersion experience in late May called the Applied Humanities Boot Camp, which provides a corps of competitively selected students with an introduction to the range of practical skills necessary for success in the applied humanities field, including budgeting, marketing and promotion, media relations, scheduling, public programming, partnership development, fundraising, graphic design, exhibit development and project management. Boot Camp participants also work collaboratively in teams with a mock $20,000 budget to develop comprehensive public programming plans to commemorate a significant anniversary.
Conceived by Hall Center Director Victor Bailey, the initiative is underwritten by a $75,000 grant from the Hall Family Foundation. The undertaking received its initial impetus in 2013-14 when Henry Fortunato (Class of 2003), then director of public affairs of the Kansas City Public Library, was the Hall Center’s Simons Fellow in Public Humanities. The initiative has since developed into a collaborative effort led by Bailey, Fortunato and Hall Center Associate Director Sally Utech.