Engaged Humanities Studio

Program Description 

The Lang Center houses Swarthmore College’s Engaged Humanities Studio. The EHS brings together scholars, students, artists, activists, and community members through collaborative projects to address issues of pressing social concern. 

We focus on experiential, community-based, and critical-making practices that combine humanistic modes of inquiry and understanding with extra-humanities disciplines, non-student communities, and/or pressing social issues that would benefit from humanistic perspectives. 

Humanities Methodologies + Community Engagement + Critical/Creative Making 

This program’s primary focus is to support projects that combine humanities methodologies with collaborative practices and creative or artistic sensibilities to address social issues. More broadly, the program seeks to cultivate a campus community that better understands and appreciates the civic potential of the Arts & Humanities and the role they can play in helping us to shape a more just and compassionate world. 

A more detailed program description can be viewed by potential applicants.

Current Projects

House of the Living

Ron Tarver, Jody Joyner, Brandon Ritter (FarmerJawn)

House of the Living is a collaborative, socially engaged artwork between FarmerJawn and Swarthmore College to further revitalize FarmerJawn’s greenhouse at the Elkins Estate Farm.

Performing Resistance and Social Change: Race, Gender, & Asian American and Asian Canadian Mobilization

Lei Ouyang, Anne Ishii (Asian Arts Initiative) and RAW (Raging Asian Womxn) Taiko Drummers

The project will host a series of community and public-facing events that will explore how we, as students, learners, and community leaders, scholars, and artists, can engage with Asian American and Asian Canadian socio-political movements through the performing arts.

A Tale of Three Rivers: A Subaltern Feminist Map of the Indus, the Ganges, and the Brahmaputra in the Little Ice Age 

Farid Azfar, Sonya Battla, Nada Razza, Sadia Abbas  

This project is designed around the potential of new collectives and collaborations between artists, activists, and academics centered broadly around the relationship between the cultural history of these three rivers and the climate futures of South Asia.

Iffy Solar

Chris Stone '23, Steve McLaughlin (Iffy Books) 

In partnership with Iffy Books, this project will run workshops that engage community members in Philadelphia with the topic of renewable energy for a just climate transition through solar-powered multimedia projects.

Unpacking Creativity 

Emma Lang '24, Aditi Joshi (Speaking Grey) 

Unpacking Creativity nurtures social emotional intelligence and confidence to express among gender and sexualities, racial and ethnic minority youth.

Read more about the projects. 

What We've Made

The Sanctuarians

Written by Cynthia Dewi Oka in collaboration with students in ENGL079: Sanctuary (Fall 2022) and community collaborators.

The Sanctuarians

Engaged Humanities Studio Fellows    

The Engaged Humanities Studio provides three types of grants to be implemented over the course of 12-18 months. Grant recipients are named Engaged Humanities Studio Fellows for the year.

For its pilot year, 22-23, the EHS will award: 

One Project Grant — Up to $18,000 project budget to a faculty or staff member seeking to work with community members to implement a project. The selected project team works closely with the Lang Center to implement the project over the course of 12-18 months. 

Two Discovery Grants — Up to $4,000 for faculty/staff to research issues, reach out to communities, or pilot a project in preparation for applying for a full project grant the following year or deepening an existing project. Projects should seek to engage publics through participatory creation, research, or problem-solving. 

Two Student Grants — Up to $1,000 to design and/or execute a project over the course of the year. Note: preference will be given to students who have either previously worked with their community partner or have plans to through an ESCH course, internship, or research project.

EHS Retreats — All project grantees agree to attend two Engaged Humanities Studio Retreats, which will take place the 2nd week of September and the 4th week of January each year. These retreats will focus on both the theory and practice of publicly engaged humanities and will be opportunities to discuss shared readings, best practices, and receive project feedback. All community partners are welcome and encouraged to participate. Participants receive small stipends for participation.

Grant Criteria and Application Process 

Criteria for Project Grants: 

  • Co-apply with a community partner or have a community letter of support
  • Project should be linked to at least one course during the project term  
  • Result in a public output (e.g. exhibition, digital resource, publication)

Project Grants will be evaluated, by a committee, on: 

  • Potential to integrate academic and community-based means of knowledge production in ways that propose creative solutions to contemporary issues 
  • Ability to develop or support campus-community partnerships that could extend beyond a single semester or year 
  • How the project’s design reflects the values of justice, reciprocity, and mutual transformation 

Each year, applications will be due on May 15. Announcements will be made by July 1. 

More detailed information can be found by viewing the 22-23 Engaged Humanities Studio Grant Application

Philosophy, Values and Goals 

  • Increase connections between campus/scholarship and community/practice. 
  • Seek to work together in ways that are transformational as opposed to transactional, undertaking a process of shared discovery that is reciprocal and non-hierarchical.
  • Be grounded in people and place, focusing on the art/talent/expertise/knowledge that we already have, prioritizing community and cultural knowledge in ways that uplift their ideas for solving issues closest to their lived experience.
  • Aspire to create models for working in community that can be models for other colleges and universities. 
  • Critically examine our processes, particularly in relation to how we are thinking about/participating in making, sharing, exhibiting, curating, and translating. 
  • Be honest in intent, being generous with each other and our resources while acknowledging our capacities and limits. 
  • Bring together people from different positionalities (e.g., artists, scholars, students, politicians, community members) to share resources, ideas, and learn from each other. 

Engaged Humanities Studio Contact

Katie Price

Katie Price

Senior Associate Director
Lang Center for Civic & Social Responsibility
Lang Center 201

EHS Faculty Fellows

Farid Azfar

Farid Azfar

Associate Professor
Trotter 212
Jody Joyner

Jody Joyner

Assistant Professor of Art
Beardsley 317
Lei X. Ouyang

Lei X. Ouyang

Chair, The Music Program in the Dept. of Music and Dance, Associate Professor - Music
Music & Dance, Asian Studies
Lang Music Building 412
Ron Tarver

Ron Tarver

Associate Professor of Art
Old Tarble L05