Dianne Harris, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and professor of history at the University of Washington, will explore the concept of “access” and how it relates to the humanities and higher education in this year’s annual Future of the Humanities Lecture. Her talk, “Access and the 21st Century University,” will take place on Wednesday, March 23 at 5 p.m. on Zoom. The lecture will be free and open to the public (register in advance).
“As tuition prices rise and the public's faith in our enterprise falls, questions about access are in the foreground of debates that focus on higher education,” said Harris. Her talk will focus on what "access" has meant in the past, what it has come to imply today, and why that term is of particular importance for those who care about the future of liberal arts education today and its ties to social justice.
Harris has worked on behalf of the humanities throughout her career. She served as dean of the College of Humanities at the University of Utah, where she supported the creation of a digital humanities center. She served as both a senior program officer for the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and as director of the Illinois Program for Research in the Humanities (now renamed the Humanities Research Institute), where her grantmaking portfolio included programs with a social justice focus. She also served as principal investigator on numerous grants, including one that supported her creation of the Humanities Without Walls, a consortium of 15 humanities centers throughout the Midwest and beyond.
Just prior to the 2016 presidential election, she was nominated by President Barack Obama to serve on the National Council on the Humanities, although her nomination was suspended due to the results of that election.
Harris holds a Ph.D. in architectural history from the University of California, Berkeley. Her scholarship, which has a broad temporal and geographic reach spanning from 18th-century Lombardy to the postwar United States, is united by a sustained focus on the relationship between the built environment and the construction of racial and class identities. An interdisciplinary scholar whose work focuses on visual and material culture as well as histories of the built environment, she is particularly well-known for her scholarly contributions to the study of “race and space.”
In addition to the Future of the Humanities Lecture, Harris will give a workshop on grantwriting to faculty, graduate students and staff. Registration is required for the March 23 workshop, which will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Zoom.
Kina Viola is program coordinator for the Society for the Humanities.