Spring Seminar

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Each spring, Rural Humanities offers a semester-long “methods and practices” seminar in Public Rural Humanities for graduate students and advanced undergraduates. Enrolled students can receive up to $2,000 to assist them in the development and dissemination of their research and/or to facilitate their collaborations with community partners.


Spring 2020

SHUM 4800/6800: Rural Humanities Seminar
Spring. 4 credits.
Mondays, 1:25 - 4:25 p.m.
Limited to 15 students.
Gerard Aching, Debra Castillo, Scott Peters.

This seminar is conceived to introduce students to the public humanities as both a disciplinary inquiry and a set of practices grounded in public and community engagement. It is intended to train cohorts of graduate students and advanced undergraduates in the various theories, methods, and practices of public humanities, to think collectively with and beyond disciplinary interests, and to bring these discipline-defined research agendas to much wider communities by first focusing on local rural communities.

The seminar offers the opportunity to

  • become familiar with the language, goals, methods, and challenges of the public humanities and community-engaged work;
  • visit and listen to community partners tell their stories and experiences as we generate original research questions based on communication, engagement, and collaboration with any of various community organizations or individuals;
  • invite faculty who have successfully completed community-engaged projects to present them as models; and
  • to present findings in a public forum and answer questions based on communication and research.

Sample community partners in Central New York:

For those students going on to academic careers that involve public programming, a publicly engaged humanities will be indispensable not only in securing a university position but also in shaping the future understanding of the role and mission of the humanities in and for society. For those students who will not be pursuing academic careers, such training in public humanities is crucial for imagining and pursuing careers beyond the university that nonetheless bring a deep familiarity and training in the humanities to bear upon their work.

Instructors: Gerard Aching, professor of Africana studies and Romance studies, Debra A. Castillo, professor of comparative literature and Latina/o studies, and Scott Peters, professor of development sociology.


We are currently accepting applications.

For undergraduate students who wish to be informed of their application status before course registration on November 4th, applications are due Thursday, October 31st. For all other undergraduate and graduate students, applications are due Friday, January 10th. Spaces are limited, and an early response will assure consideration for enrollment.

Please apply by submitting a statement of no more than 300 words in which you describe:

  1. Why you are interested public humanities and/or community-engaged work;
  2. What it means for your intellectual development; and
  3. The type of project in these areas that you are interested in developing. If you have previous experience in public or engaged work, please also briefly discuss it. 

Please submit your statement and provide requested information using this application form

Questions? Attend our information session.

Rural Humanities Spring Seminar Q&A
Tuesday, October 29th
2:00 p.m., English Department Lounge (258 Goldwin Smith Hall)