Center for the Humanities

University – Madison – Wisconsin – World

Center For Humanities

Established in 1999, the Center for the Humanities is the primary vehicle on the University of Wisconsin–Madison campus for interdisciplinary programming in the humanities. The mission of the Center for the Humanities is to foster critical engagement with current and historical events and to examine the meaning, value, and function of our culture in all of its manifestations. The Center has a strong presence on the UW-Madison Campus, but also reaches beyond the campus with programs and events oriented towards the public in the city of Madison, the state of Wisconsin, and the global community.


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The Center for the Humanities is a center for intellectual life on Campus. We create vibrant interdisciplinary dialogues through workshops, lecture series, and faculty seminars. Our reach is wider than any department. At our events, historians of science and anthropologists, literary critics and philosophers, classicists and legal theorists, students and faculty come together tackle major intellectual questions. Specialists in the Americas, Europe, Africa, Asia, the Middle East and beyond share their knowledges and learn from one another, enriching every level of campus life.


The Center for the Humanities sponsors twenty major lectures a year and brings to Madison the most important intellectuals of our time, including Michael Pollan, Stanley Fish, Kwame Anthony Appiah, Harold McGee, Judith Butler, Steve Pinker, and Natalie Zemon Davis, as well as our own William Cronon, Biddy Martin, and Alfred McCoy. These events are free and open to the public. We also host events at the Wisconsin Book Festival and the Wisconsin Film Festival. Our events attract first year undergrads, honors students, graduate students, world-class faculty, and community members: everyone who has a hunger for ideas. We are a major force in Madison’s cultural life.


The Center for the Humanities sponsors outreach events for teachers and students across the state of Wisconsin. Our Great World Texts program brings to campus high school teachers from all over the state for intense workshops with major authors and translators. Our Humanities Exposed program brings top graduate students from all of the humanities disciplines, including English, History, Music, Spanish and many more, into local high schools, neighborhood programs, and museums where they share their research with the community.


The Center for the Humanities sponsors events with scholars from across the country and around the globe. By inviting Anthropologists, Linguists, Science Writers, Theater Scholars, Journalists, and Philosophers to campus, we make the University of Wisconsin part of the global intellectual community. These visits make the Center an international crossroads where new ideas are fostered and new collaborations initiated. And through new digital technologies we now put audio and videocasts of our events online so that these world-class programs now can be accessed worldwide.