Humanities Focused Resources

The (Un)Common Good positions the humanities as a positive framework for building constructive debate and understanding. Education, literature, history, philosophy, and the arts all provide unique opportunities for engaging with different viewpoints, shedding new light on how we can interact despite our differences.  

Talking to strangers: anxieties of citizenship since Brown v. Board of Education (Paperback, November 2006)
Danielle S. Allen uses the landmark Brown v. Board of Education case as a starting point to consider an active and impactful citizenship based on sacrifice and overcoming distrust.  

Bridging Differences (
Educators Diane Ravitch and Deborah Meier "find themselves at odds" on education policy issues, but used this series of blog posts at Education Week to discuss and offer insight into one another's viewpoints.  

Why Aren't Poets More Politically Active? (Poetry Magazine, April 2010)
David Biespiel claims that a majority of poets are far too insular and removed from civic discourse and democratic participation. 

Poetic Political Engagement: Yes and Yes (Kenyon Review Blog, May 2010)
Tamiko Beyer responds to David Biespiel's lament (above) over his perceived lack of politically-engaged poets, and gives examples of poets creating civic discourse.   

Traces of the Trade (official website for documentary film, 2008)
Documentary filmmaker Katrina Browne investigates her family ancestry that includes a history of slave trading. It leads to a trip to Ghana where she and her family coordinate discussions with African-American families exploring their own ancestries.  

History as Catalyst for Civic Dialogue: Case Studies from Animating Democracy (Paperback, 2005)
This publication from Americans for the Arts' "Animating Democracy" initiative profiles programs at three different cultural organizations that create civic dialogue including the Andy Warhol Museum, Rhode Island Council for the Humanities, and St. Augustine's Episcopal Church. 

With Civility for Each and Respect for All Speech (NEH, March 2010)
NEH Director Jim Leach gives the 2010 commencement address at Miami-Dade College where he calls for more civil discourse in a globalized, and rapidly fragmented, America. 

Why Museums Should Become Sites for Civic Discourse (Museum 2.0 blog, March 2003)
Blogger Nina Simon suggests that museums are prime venues for civic discourse.  

Feast: Radical Hospitality and Contemporary Art (Feast blog)
Curator Stephanie Smith from the Smart Museum at the University of Chicago keeps a research blog detailing an upcoming exhibition titled "Feast", examining artists that use the shared meal for people to engage and discuss contemporary culture. 

Radical Hindsight (The Atlantic, May 2010)
Blogger Ta-Nehisi Coates remarks on how his Civil War history research can inform political action. 

Colonial Manners (
Before the age of 16, George Washington transcribed the list of "Rules of Civility & Decent Behaviour In Company and Conversation". 

Big Questions Online (official website)
Published by the John Templeton Foundation, Big Questions takes on complex issues with a multidisciplinary approach, offering a way of viewing difficult topics through new lenses.