UW-Madison Professor and Center for Humanities Director Sara Guyer starts this semester as the President of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes, founded in 1988 to link humanities organizations and scholars.
With her selection, CHCI also moves to UW-Madison from its previous home at the Franklin Humanities Institute at Duke University. CHCI includes 220 members from 25 countries from across North America, Western Europe, the Mediterranean, East Asia, Australia, and Africa.
In addition to an annual conference, the CHCI supports programs ranging from short-term intensive summer institutes to long-term multidisciplinary research networks that unite scholars from around the world to work around a common theme or set of questions.
Since 2007, international membership of CHCI has grown by 25 percent, and Guyer hopes to retain that commitment. "UW-Madison is especially well positioned to continue to sustain and expand upon the global focus of CHCI," Guyer says.
Guyer is not only interested in expanding CHCI geographically, but also extending its networks into new avenues of cross-disciplinary collaboration and partnership. According to Guyer, "There is an urgent need to advance research and thinking that reaches across institutional lines both within and beyond the university, envisioning new audiences for research in literature, history, philosophy, and culture."
Guyer has been a national leader in promoting this kind of scholarship, which is often called "public humanities." The Center for the Humanities currently sponsors several public humanities initiatives in addition to their regular speaker series, "Humanities Without Boundaries."
The Public Fellowship places graduate students as part-time employees within community organizations. The Humanities Exchange, or HEX program, supports collaborative projects between graduate students and community groups. And this fall, the HEX program has expanded to included undergraduates as well, whose projects will start in 2017.
Guyer and her team at the Center for the Humanities are already looking forward to CHCI's next big meetings, one taking place in Buenos Aires in February and the Annual Meeting in Cape Town, South Africa, in August. In addition to this in-person networking, of course, they are also planning a redesign of the CHCI website.
In addition to Guyer, CHCI will be staffed by Guillaume Ratel, Director of Programs, and Craig Eley, Director of Membership and Communications. Ratel joins CHCI from the Wisconsin Center for Education Research at UW-Madison where he previously worked as Program Manager. Eley spent the last two years as an ACLS Public Fellow working at To the Best of Our Knowledge, a radio program produced at Wisconsin Public Radio.