The Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences.
At IPRH, we consider humanities research to be indispensable to every aspect of campus intellectual and social life. We cultivate disciplinary depth and rigor in the traditional humanities disciplines, supporting thoughtful and innovative scholarly inquiry. Yet we also hail partners in the sciences, the arts and the communities we live in, seeking interdisciplinary collaboration where it’s warranted. We push the boundaries of what’s imaginable and we question the questions themselves. We engage with audiences beyond the academy in order to test the limits and possibilities of what we do in the public square. And we are dynamic: we are not simply responding to the present but trying to shape it—and to anticipate the future as well. If you want to experience the vibrancy of humanities work in the world, come see us in action.
IPRH grants fellowships to Illinois faculty and graduate students, and in fall 2010 welcomed the first Mellon Post-Doctoral Fellows in the Humanities, supported by a six-year grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Thanks to the continued generosity of the Mellon Foundation, IPRH continues to support post-doctoral research with a new fellowship program, starting in fall 2016. The IPRH also serves as the administrative locus for the Mellon-funded Humanities Without Walls consortium.
IPRH coordinates and hosts lectures, symposia, and panel discussions on a wide variety of topics, and provides awards that recognize excellence in humanities research to faculty and students. IPRH supports faculty-driven initiatives through its Research Clusters initiative, and provides support to faculty and graduate student reading groups.
Since 2006, the Odyssey Project has operated as a free nine-month humanities course offered to members of the Champaign-Urbana community who live at or near the poverty level. The course—which is supported by the Office of the Chancellor, the College of Education, and a grant from the Illinois Humanities Council—is taught by Illinois faculty. IPRH has also been in affiliation with the Education Justice Project, a prison education program supported by the Illinois Humanities Council and individual donors, since 2008.
The Humanities at Illinois
Humanities scholarship offers models of flourishing through deep study, thoughtful collaboration and critical inquiry. Though embedded in the contemporary present, work in the humanities pushes us beyond the most immediate horizon, whether backwards toward the past or sideways into questions that bear on how we think and do and imagine now. Conversation is our laboratory and debate is our experimental method. Learning through humanities research and teaching trains students to appreciate plurality and difference and to query what looks familiar as well as what seems strange. Whether in the archive, in the classroom or on the Quad, humanities work is fully engaged in, and unsettling to, the here and now—often in unlooked for ways. And when such work points to futures that are unimaginable, it shows the power and relevance of the kinds of knowledge that the humanities makes possible for all the audiences we are in dialogue with.