Posted by Matthew Van Hoose on October 18, 2015 at 1:45 AM
What do we mean when we talk about the community impact of the humanities?
In this website, the members of the South Mississippi Humanities Network provide inspiring answers to that question. And all of those answers are firmly rooted in this place: its particular history and heritage, its distinctive cultural makeup, its sources of pride and the challenges that it looks to confront in the future. The humanities organizations in this region work to give all local residents a chance to explore these issues, and through them the broader question of what makes us who we are, as individuals and as communities.
What, though, are the humanities, and what makes humanities organizations so well equipped to address these big questions? Here again, this website provides clear answers. The South Mississippi Humanities Network includes public libraries, museums, the state humanities council, and scholars from disciplines ranging from history to literature to foreign language. The signature programs that these humanities organizations and scholars carry out, illustrated so vividly in this website, should leave no question as to what the humanities are and how they make their communities better places.
As our name suggests, the National Humanities Alliance is a coalition of humanities organizations and scholars spanning all sectors and all regions of the country. We recognize, however, that the transformational power of the humanities is fundamentally local. For that reason, we are tremendously excited to be supporting and witnessing the launch of the South Mississippi Humanities Network. Not all communities nationwide are as fortunate as the ones served by the Network when it comes to the number of humanities organizations and scholars present and, most importantly, the superb quality of their work. We’ll be watching South Mississippi for examples that should be emulated elsewhere, and we hope that you will, too.
Matt Van Hoose, Ph.D., is Project Director and Whiting Fellow for the Humanities at the National Humanities Alliance Foundation.