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MONDAVI SPEAKERS SERIES Since 2011, the Humanities Institute has partnered with the Mondavi Center in hosting prominent scholars, filmmakers and performers as part of the Mondavi Center’s Distinguished Speakers Series. While the Mondavi Center provides the venue for an evening lecture with the invited speaker, the Humanities Institute arranges a more informal, intimate conversation beforehand with students and other members of the campus community. In January 2013, actor, humanitarian and calypso king Harry Belafonte enthralled a student audience as he discussed how he managed to fuse his art and activism throughout a long and successful career. “I am an activist who became an artist,” Belafonte told the young crowd. “A pursuit of goals in my activism led me to the correct tools to change the way society serves its people of color.”

When an international student asked Belafonte what students should be doing at their institutions of higher learning, Belafonte responded, “The institution of learning is charged with the responsibility of enhancing our humanity. If they don’t put us in touch with our deeper sense of self, I am concerned. I maintain that if not for the humanities, I never would have understood my relationship to you as a person of another culture, of another experience.” The hour-long exchange with the rapt students covered many topics, including Belafonte’s friendship with Martin Luther King, Jr., poverty, and the prison industrial complex. Students left the event thoughtful and excited. “It made me realize that we all have some sort of purpose, and even one person can make a difference,” said Mary Lou Milabu. Afterwards, Belafonte sat down with each student who approached him to hear their stories, answer questions and offer advice from his many years of resisting the status quo.

BOOM: A JOURNAL OF CALIFORNIA In its inaugural two years, Boom: A Journal of California, founded by American Studies Professor Carolyn de la Peña and Louis Warren, the W. Turrentine Jackson Professor of Western U.S. History, has garnered much praise for its groundbreaking content and innovative business model. In 2011, the Library Journal named it one of the 10 Best Magazines of the Year, and in June 2013, the Columbia Journalism Review (CJR) lauded its creators for attempting “to blend scholar- ship and journalism in a different way, one based in the academy but still accessible to a general audience.” The not-for-profit, quarterly journal relies on subscription fees, advertising revenue and foundation grants, as well as in-kind help from the University of California system to publish what CJR called “thoughtful and often offbeat” articles “in its attempt to become a significant voice in California’s public conversation.”

The Humanities Institute has served as Boom’s institutional home since its founding, and in 2013-2014 will transfer that role to the University of California Los Angeles where Jon Christensen, an adjunct assistant professor and Pritzker fellow at the Insti- tute of the Environment and Sustainability and the Department of History, will assume the role of editor. But before the handover, Boom’s Spring 2013 issue, the last edited by de la Peña and Warren, enjoyed more good press as LA Observed called out a piece by Lynell George on the phenomenon of Lynn Garrett’s Hidden Los Angeles, a blog, website and Facebook page that has become a “fully interactive community—a virtual tour, online magazine of the city.” So impressed by George’s article and others in the same issue, LA Observed advised readers to “Keep an eye on this magazine” that “wants to be the California magazine we’ve never really had.”



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