Going Public

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What is it?

In Massachusetts, as elsewhere, community colleges are under increasing pressure to focus more and more on vocational and technical training at the expense of the humanities and liberal arts, even though this is the only higher education the majority of community college students will receive. The Community College Public Humanities Centers (CCPHC) initiative represents a modest counterbalance to this trend, affirming the importance and value of the humanities not only for students but for the community at large.

The primary purpose of the CCPHC initiative is to marshal and supplement the resources of the community colleges to present forums and panel discussions, book and film discussion programs, author talks, documentary photo and art exhibitions, local history programs, and other public humanities programs for both students and people living in their regions.

Once fully realized, the initiative will have created a center at one or more community colleges in all six regions of the state – the Berkshires, the Connecticut River Valley, Central Massachusetts, Greater Boston, the Northeast, and the South Coast.

Who participates?

Each center will represent a collaboration between the community college faculty and staff, local cultural and civic organizations such as the public library and the local historical society, humanities scholars at nearby colleges and universities, and Mass Humanities. Led by a director based at the college, each team will plan and implement programs that speak to the needs and interests of the local community.

Where in Massachusetts is the program running?

The NEH planning grant allows us to test our concept at Berkshire Community College in Pittsfield, Middlesex Community College in Lowell, and Holyoke Community College. Scholars from Williams College, Mass College of the Liberal Arts, Amherst College, Clark University, Boston University, UMass Lowell and UMass Amherst will participate. If all goes according to plan, next year at this time we will submit an implementation grant to the NEH that will provide multi-year funding for these three centers.

Who funds it?

Mass Humanities has received a $74,835 planning grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to launch an initiative that promises to transform the cultural and civic landscape of Massachusetts.

April 1, 2016