HUMANITIES INSTITUTE

 

1.       Purpose

 

Montana State University—Bozeman seeks authorization from the MUS Board of Regents to create the MSU—Bozeman Humanities Institute with a two-year sunset provision if sufficient external funding streams are not secured to support the Institute's activities. The goal in seeking formal approval of the Humanities Institute is to better position the institution to secure the necessary extramural funding to ensure long-term viability of the Institute.  A number of foundations have expressed interest in supporting the proposed Humanities Institute but are unwilling to commit resources until the institutional infrastructure to support the Institute is formally established.  Sufficient resources have been identified to support the first year of Institute activities, which will focus on fundraising and awareness-building.  Indeed, if sufficient funding is not secured to support the Institute’s activities, the center will be dissolved.

 

The long-term goal of this proposal is to create an institute to integrate humanities-based and science-based understandings of the social, political, and cultural significance of the region’s past, present, and future.  The Institute would provide opportunities to bring together distinguished faculty for advanced study of emerging cross-disciplinary issues across the humanities, traditionally conceived as involving the “whole of knowledge,” with specific emphasis on the intersection of science with the more traditional humanities disciplines.

 

2.       Objectives

 

            During the first year (FY06), the objectives are to

 

a)       hire a part-time, interim director;

 

b)    secure funding from those foundations that have shown significant interest in funding the Institute; and

 

c)       begin grant-writing activities to further support the primary activities of the Humanities Institute.

 

            The longer-term objectives are as follows:

 

a)       To provide a center for integrating advanced study in the humanities by distinguished faculty drawn from a range of disciplines (including the sciences)

 

b)       To ensure that the activities of the Institute are used to support MSU—Bozeman’s commitment to involving undergraduates in research.  Indeed, the purposeful integration of undergraduates in the Institute's activities would distinguish the Humanities Institute from other similar institutes across the country

 

c)       To provide funding for faculty and student research

 

3.       Activities

 

Believing that the local can serve as a model for the national and universal, the Institute will sponsor distinguished lecturers and scholars and writers-in-residence with whom students, faculty, and the community can interact; provide a stage for the multidisciplinary research and scholarship of MSU faculty and students; and sponsor faculty and student fellowships to develop and support new voices within the university community. The Institute is committed to John Brockman’s observation in the The New Humanists: Science on the Edge that the humanities can serve as a bridge among science, letters, and the arts.

 

4.       Information on agencies, organizations and/or institutions which will be involved and advisory council information.

 

The Humanities Institute will draw on the support of multiple foundations, including: the National Science Foundation (especially its division of Social Sciences); the Getty Foundation; the Allen Foundation; and, the Turner Foundation.  The Institute's program will also be influenced by consultation with similar entities at other institutions (see below).  An advisory council will be assembled drawing on MSU and non-MSU scholars.  Writer Peter Matthiessen and biologist Stuart Kauffman have agreed to serve on the advisory committee; we have also asked legal scholar Martha Nussbaum, geographer Jared Diamond, and humanist Jeri Pelikan to serve as well.  In addition, we are hopeful that Dr. Henrietta Mann, Chair of Native American Studies at MSU, will agree to serve as one our advisors.

 

5.       Identify the organizational structure within the institution

 

The director of the Humanities Institute will report to the Dean of the College of Letters and Science.

 

6.       Interrelationships between the Humanities Institute and the institutional mission; including information about which departments on campus will be involved and how the center or institute will contribute to the academic programs of the institution.

 

The MSU vision statement makes clear the direction of the university: “Montana State University will be the university of choice for those seeking a student-centered learning environment distinguished by innovation and discovery in a Rocky Mountain setting.”  The mission of the university is:

·         “To provide a challenging and richly diverse learning environment in which the entire university community is fully engaged in supporting student success.

·         To provide an environment that promotes the exploration, discovery, and dissemination of new knowledge.

·         To provide a collegial environment for faculty and students in which discovery and learning are closely integrated and highly valued.

·         To serve the people and communities of Montana by sharing our expertise and collaborating with others to improve the lives and prosperity of Montanans.”

 

On all counts, the Humanities Institute fits with the mission of Montana State University—Bozeman.  The Institute is, by definition, interdisciplinary and seeks to generate and disseminate new knowledge.  It involves faculty and students from across this campus and, through its programming, the broader community as well. Because the humanities involve the “whole of knowledge,” the Institute seeks to build bridges between disciplines and will be open to all faculty seeking to integrate human knowledge.

 

7) Finances and Space

 

The modest first-year funding (see attached budget) has been committed by multiple campus divisions.  Funding in subsequent years is dependent upon foundation support and other extramural funding sources. Exit Strategy: If, after two years, sufficient funding is not forthcoming, the Institute will be discontinued.

 

During the first year of activities—a year that fill focus on fundraising—the only requirement for space is for the part-time interim director; this space will be provided by the Dean of the College of Letters and Science.  In the long term, extramural funding must be sufficient to permit the Institute to secure necessary space for Institute activities; the space requirements will grow as funding increases.  The Institute will not displace other education, research, or outreach activities on the  MSU—Bozeman campus.

 

8) Similar programs in the state and surrounding region

 

The Institute for the Humanities will join a prestigious community of similar centers nationwide, including the John Hope Franklin Humanities Institute at Stanford University, the Whitney Humanities Center at Yale, the Franke Institute for the Humanities at the University of Chicago, the Center for Ideas and Society at the University of California at Riverside, and the Center for the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin. Closer to home, the proposed MSU Institute for the Humanities will join the Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities at the University of Washington and the Center for the Humanities and the Arts at the University of Colorado.  It will also complement, without duplicating, the activities of the Center for the Rocky Mountain West at the University of Montana which is “a regional studies and public policy center.” We also seek to complement, without duplicating, the activities of the Montana Committee for the Humanities, which is also based at the University of Montana.

 

9) Identify faculty expertise available for participation in Institute activities

 

The interim director of the Institute will be Dr. Rosanne Malouf (Ph.D. Columbia Teachers College; A.B.. University of Chicago).  She will have the support of faculty across campus in the humanities, sciences, and arts.  During the first year of its operation, the Institute will be headquartered in the Department of History and Philosophy.

 

10) Review process

 

This proposal has been reviewed by the Academic Affairs sub-committee of Faculty Council and by the full MSU Faculty Council where it was unanimously supported in both cases.  The proposal has also been reviewed and approved by the Dean of the College of Letters and Science and by the Office of the Provost.