Public Humanities Initiative

Urban environments and infrastructures play crucial roles in defining and mediating health and care. From the effects of metropolitan experience on mental health to the medical apartheids construed through urban segregation, from the healing or toxic powers of high-rise building and high density living to the racialized and gendered networks of care, health is as much a problem of the polis as the city is a category of modern medical history. Meanwhile, urgencies and policies of contagion raise the stakes of contemporary conditions of city living at a global scale. The on-going crises of public health and urban inequality only put further pressure on the ways in which architectural and urban design inform the economics, sciences, politics, and public experiences of health. 

A day of workshops with scholars, artists, students, curators, and educators who are working to bridge arts education and incarceration and, in the process, render visible the hidden histories of mass incarceration and radicalize arts pedagogies for a more just society. 

This Public Humanities environmental walk will mark the 50th anniversary of Earth Day by exploring the history of the Harlem River as it manifests itself on-site. The Harlem River has been shaped by tide patterns and climate change, and like the Hudson River, it contains a legacy of toxic pollution. Despite the fact that the Harlem River is a man-made river—New York City engineers rerouted its channel—most people who live along the river have no access to the waterfront. This walk, free and open to the public, will spatially explore the ways people have been disconnected from the river and the role river history, and a public humanities approach to the site, can play in rebuilding the connections between people and their river.  By engaging the river’s wide public and staging an interdisciplinary conversation about the river’s histories of disconnection—with walkers experienced in urban planning, climate change, photography, and community activism—we will come away with an inclusive and compelling history of the Harlem River that may begin to draw new connecting threads to its publics.

Award-winning director Kurt Orderson and co-producer Najma Nuriddin will participate in a panel discussion following a screening of “Not in Our Neighborhood” (2018), an award-winning documentary on the intergenerational stories of how ordinary citizens respond to the policies, process, and institutions driving contemporary forms of spatial violence and gentrification in São Paulo, Cape Town, and New York. In telling these contemporary urban stories through the activist voices that are emerging to reclaim the right to shelter, the film offers a global critique on the current politics of space and casts the so-called Global South as particularly radical in offering modes of resistance to the social injustices afforded by the built environment.

Insurgent Knowledges: Book Discussion

Monday, September 18, 2017

Join us for a more nuanced analysis of the relationship between prisons and public education with authors Dr. Damien Sojoyner and Dr. Sabina Vaught and respondents Robin McGinty and Dr. Carla Shedd. 

Are you interested in community impact? Do you wish your students were more civically engaged? Come to our workshop on Bringing Engaged Scholarship to the Humanities Classroom. You’ll learn about models for engaged scholarship, be inspired by service learning projects around the country, and begin to map out your own path to creating service learning experiences for your students.

A Woman’s Celebration

Saturday, May 14, 2016

A Woman’s Celebration is Love Thyself First’s 2nd Annual woman’s wellness celebration centered on self-love and mental health advocacy. 

Presenters at this conference come from various academic disciplines, including History, Sociology, and Law, under the shared goal of provoking an interdisciplinary discussion of the complex issues of incarceration, criminal justice, and human rights.  Click here for more details and a full schedule.

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