Westchester Community College Humanities Institute
Co-Directors, Dr. Frank Madden and Heather Ostman
By promoting the values of understanding, curiosity, openness, inclusivity, respect, and academic rigor, the mission of the Westchester Community College Humanities Institute is to advance pluralistic and global approaches to humanities education by embracing multi-cultural perspectives within the disciplines of literature, language, history, philosophy, cultural and film studies, communications, and art history.
The Importance of Viewing the Humanities through the Lens of the Immigrant Experience
The humanities enable understanding of the human condition, and the sustained development of any humanities curricula is central to an institution’s successful preparation of its students for life in twenty-first century America. Ruth Simmons, the 18th President of Brown University and the first African American appointed president of any Ivy League university, has continually emphasized the relevance of the humanities to understanding and transforming society: “Simmons’s desire to understand how her own society could countenance racial cruelty and legally enforced segregation led her to a lifelong interest in the humanities and in other cultures.” In Simmons’s experience, the humanities enabled insights into racial injustice. In the current cultural moment, in which immigration issues polarize our nation, a parallel may be drawn to Simmons: the humanities, viewed through the lens of the immigrant experience, can bridge gaps of knowledge, explore emergent tensions—those encountered internally and externally by both immigrants and native born residents, foster curiosity and respect, and build community.
The Westchester Community College Humanities Institute
The Westchester Community College Humanities Institute is a campus-wide initiative that supports the research and scholarship of faculty, students, and members of the community by developing and supporting events (including symposia, workshops, speaker series, reading series, exhibits, film series, and community partnerships) that explore and celebrate the humanities from the perspective of the immigrant experience in an increasingly globalized world. To achieve that goal, the Westchester Community College Humanities Institute continues to shift and re-focus the study of the humanities from a traditional, western perspective to a multi-cultural lens to promote global understanding. By promoting the values of understanding, curiosity, openness, inclusivity, respect, and academic rigor, the mission of the Westchester Community College Humanities Institute is to advance pluralistic and global approaches to humanities education by embracing multi-cultural perspectives within the disciplines of literature, language, history, philosophy, cultural and film studies, communications, and art history.
The Humanities Institute is a natural and logical extension of the College’s intellectual commitment to immigrant education. The humanities include many forms of artistic expression, intellectual inquiry, and ordinary life through which people explore the meanings and challenges of human experience. Moreover, they offer a framework for current debates about nationality, individuality, citizenship, borders, inclusivity, social justice, and cultural identity.
In September 2013, The Humanities Instituted presented “The Accidental Immigrant: Dispelling Stereotypes,” an address by Dan Barry, New York Times columnist, author, and memoirist.
Watch a video on Exploring Caribbean Culture through the Alan & Jacqueline Stuart Endowed Faculty Chair in Developmental Studies with Dr. Elizabeth Nunez
Westchester Community College is the recipient of a prestigious NEH Challenge Grant. This $300,000 grant establishes a Humanities Institute, but requires a 2:1 match to raise the endowment for the initiative to $900,000. Contributions from several generous donors to the Westchester Community College Foundation enabled us to raise over two-thirds of the matching funds required by the NEH to date.