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(Credit: Tom Spaulding)


UC Davis Humanities Institute 227 Voorhies Hall One Shields Avenue Davis, CA 95616


David Biale Director

Molly McCarthy Associate Director

Pam Nardinelli Program Manager

Becky Wilson Event Coordinator

Amber Harden Assistant to the Mellon Initiatives

Elliott Pollard Webmaster

Kevin Bryant Computer Support

Graduate Student Researchers Russell Backman, English Tim Johnson, Spanish Tanner Jupin, English

2013-2014 Advisory Board Joe Dumit, Anthropology/Science and Technology Studies Ari Kelman, History Seeta Chaganti, English Eric Smoodin, American Studies Michael Lazzara, Spanish and Portuguese Mario Biagioli, Science and Technology Studies James Housefield, Design

Zoila Mendoza, Native American Studies Archana Venkatesan, Comparative Literature Maceo Montoya, Chicana/o Studies Colin Milburn, English

(Credit: Tom Spaulding)

THE UC DAVIS HUMANITIES INSTITUTE has spent the last 25 years bringing meaning and context to many of the biggest questions we ask ourselves: What is the meaning of time? How do we shape nature, and how has nature shaped us? Is California, as a place and a culture, exceptional? In an era of recycling and sustainability, what is trash?

With our counterparts throughout the University of California system, we aim to bring faculty into conversation with one another, with the campus community and with the public at large. From its early 20th-century roots as the University Farm to its recognition today as among the nation’s top 10 public research universities, UC Davis has remained committed to research that benefits the public good. As the branch of the university that asks questions of meaning, the humanities are central to that mission.

The institute is proud of the distinctive kind of humanities we foster at one of the nation’s leading land-grant universities. Our brand of “land-grant humanities” addresses critical problems in our culture and does so by bringing together scholars in different disciplines in creative and exciting ways. The Mellon Research Initiatives have proven to be a good mechanism for crossing boundaries. For example, in the Environments & Societies Mellon Research Initiative, historians and literary scholars analyze the cultural impact of environmental crises like global warming. In the Digital Cultures Mellon Research Initiative, literary scholars and anthropologists enlist video games to understand how scientists work in their laboratories. Asking the big questions of meaning, humanists at UC Davis reach across the campus and beyond to make the humanities essential to debates about the public good. But, apart from addressing the problems of today, the institute also supports faculty and graduate students attuned to the past such as a research cluster entitled the Religions of Late Antiquity recently occupied in locating, with the help of a GIS database, the “birth of the liberal arts” in the ancient world. Opening up scholarly inquiries, both past and present, satisfies our curiosities and adds to a body of knowledge that enriches our understanding of the human condition.

Many may think STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) when they hear the name UC Davis. But as a great university UC Davis needs the humanities alongside those disciplines. All great research universities have great humanities departments. It’s impossible to have one without the other, and it’s our mission—at the UC Davis Humanities Institute—to fulfill that potential.


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