What is the meaning and significance of community in the 21st century? How has community been conceptualized and created by different cultures throughout history? How are relationships between specific communities and the broader social milieu constructed and maintained? In today’s global society, what provides the impetus for a life of civic engagement, built upon democratic values, goals, and aspirations? Is the “network” the next form of community, now disconnected from the preconditions of shared physical or social space? These and other questions will be explored through the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center’s 2016-17 public events series Community Matters.
A primary focus of Community Matters will be the changing nature of a liberal education. Increasingly, higher education is emphasizing the cultivation of citizenship through field-based learning, collaborative community-based research and the co-creation of knowledge through community-university partnerships. Through such approaches, the goals of a liberal education are becoming refocused to align with the values of deliberative democracy, participatory citizenship and civic engagement through cooperative problem solving. Community Matters aims to stimulate reflection and transformation in this direction, inviting the campus and community to work together to develop humanities- and arts-based programs that cultivate essential skills of collaboration and that mutually engage the university and the local community through co-conceived learning opportunities and co-designed projects.