For a few days this month, Indianapolis and Indiana Humanities will host conversations aimed at helping the nation navigate the pressing issues of our day.
Addressing topics ranging from artificial intelligence and racial equity to climate change and mass incarceration, the 800 people gathered in Indy for the National Humanities Conference will do what the humanities do best: pursue insights and ideas that help Americans and their communities face big challenges in creative and inclusive ways.
At the same time, these humanities scholars and practitioners from across the nation will experience the ways Hoosiers come together to think, read and talk about such matters.
And they’re inviting you to join them at two events that are open to the public: the Oct. 25 Indianapolis Economic Club Luncheon featuring National Endowment for the Humanities Chair Shelly Lowe and the Oct. 27 conversation at the Madam Walker Legacy Center with author A’Lelia Bundles, whose book about her great-great-grandmother, Madam C.J. Walker, was adapted into the Netflix series “Self Made,” starring Octavia Spencer.
With expertise in disciplines such as literature, philosophy, ethics, history, religious studies and language, the professionals attending the conference will consider how best to leverage those areas of knowledge to help Americans confront the challenges before us. And they’ll take home fresh perspectives and ideas to shape humanities programs in their states and communities.
Held in a different city every year—it was in Los Angeles last year and travels to Providence, Rhode Island, next year—the National Humanities Conference comes to the Hoosier state as Indiana Humanities wraps up a celebration of its 50th anniversary. We’re honored to serve as hosts and delighted to have the opportunity to share a sampling of Indiana’s nationally recognized humanities institutions and programs.
For example, as part of regular programming or optional excursions, attendees will visit the Eiteljorg Museum of American Indians and Western Art, take in modernist architecture in Columbus, tour Indiana Avenue and get insights into Conner Prairie’s newest exhibition, Promised Land as Proving Ground, which covers 500 years of African American history.
As much as we’re excited to highlight our assets and programs, we’re also looking forward to showing off a state where history serves not as an anchor holding us back but as a wave urging us forward. We want attendees to experience a city where literary heroes get murals every bit as big as sports legends do. We want them to appreciate what it means to have public and private support of the humanities and leaders who believe the humanities should have a place at the table when serious matters are being considered. And we want them to see how countless collaborators and participants in big cities and tiny towns throughout Indiana give the humanities a voice in community-shaping conversations.
As our nation and our world face big challenges and seek new opportunities, we believe champions of the humanities must contribute an essential voice and resource in community-building. They must have the opportunity to insert perspective, context and humanity into conversations, ensuring that we don’t simply solve problems and seize opportunities, but that we do those things in ways that lift up everyone, give voice to every segment of our population and benefit whole communities.
This month, Indianapolis and Indiana play host to these shared experiences and, we hope, contribute a good portion of Hoosier wisdom, creativity and community to the ideas, visions and solutions that emerge from them.•
Amstutz is president and CEO of Indiana Humanities. Gahl, executive vice president and chief marketing officer of Visit Indy, chairs the Indiana Humanities board. Contact firstname.lastname@example.org for information about events.