Dear CHASS community, colleagues, friends:

It would have been nice to start our “monthly musings” from the Center for Ideas and Society with a heartfelt “Welcome back to campus after the holiday break!” As things stand, we might have to wait a while before we can all meet, teach, and talk in person again. In the meantime, we all the Center for Ideas and Society do wish you a happy, healthy, and productive year 2022, looking forward to many new and stimulating collaborations!

Dylan, Katharine, and I sat down, mostly on zoom, for a series of brainstorming sessions in the fall. We discussed the cornerstones of our visions for the CIS, and we are excited to present some of the outcomes to you today. As can be expected, there were both distinctly separate fields of interests as well as shared visions for the Center, and the future of our college.

In the new year 2022, we are launching a series of events jointly with Graduate Division, dedicated to the future of Graduate Studies in CHASS: Arts and Humanities 2.0: Re-Imagining Scholarship, Study, and Graduate Education at UCR. There will be a UCHRI Stories from the Field presentation discussing shared experiences of recent UC graduates in March, a roundtable on the future role of the Arts in graduate education in April, a chairs and directors forum in May, and two workshops organized by CHASS faculty in spring and fall. We will share more details with you in the coming months.

We are particularly excited to present two brand new initiatives at the CIS: Decolonizing Humanism(?), a programming and activity stream organized by Dylan, and Being Human with a series of activity bubbles that I put together. They are dedicated to the humanities in motion and a global society in transformation. Both are permeable, growing structures, and they are meant to be in flux. We aim to inspire your creative input so that both initiatives can expand and flourish into various directions through collaborative processes.

The Decolonizing Humanism(?) stream, in Dylan’s words, “invites all forms of inter-/trans-/anti-disciplinary collaboration that address the categories of ‘human’ and ‘humanism’ as formations of colonial power/violence. ‘Decolonizing Humanism’ centers knowledge, archival, and aesthetic practices that challenge the presumptive coherence of the ‘humanities’ as such, including canonical and hegemonic institutionalizations. This collaborative labor cultivates conversations and connection across intellectual sites, within and beyond university and academic spaces.” Recent collaborations within this stream have included sponsorships or co-sponsorships of activities with UCLA’s Racial Violence Hub, Prof. Courtney Baker’s (English) Black Horror Salon series, the CHASS Black Study Departmental Initiative, and the Oakland based Black Organizing Project (alongside the statewide Cops Off Campus coalition). Videos of recent events can be viewed at the CIS’s own Vimeo page here. The Decolonizing Humanism(?) stream will support a series of events and programs in the Winter and Spring 2022 quarters, including a January 28 event with Critical Resistance Abolitionist Educators and Spring events with Imagining America (based at UC Davis) and the UC Berkeley Black Studies Collaboratory.

My own Being Human Initiative is a moving platform for innovative thinking between the disciplines and colleges at UCR. With the humanities at its center, it tackles ‘big’ questions about the human condition in times of altered pandemic realities, climate change, rising nationalisms, and shifting academics. Being Human promotes experimental research collaborations, global education and cosmopolitanism, and inquisitive, open-minded thought. Under its umbrella, we are presenting a series of conversations on Big Questions: (When) Will This Pandemic End? with David Lo (SoM) on January 13, 2022, What Happens When We (Nearly) Die? with John Fischer (Philosophy), Brigham Willis (SoM), and William Stigall (Cook Children’s Medical Center, Austin/TX) on January 31, 2022, and “Do We (Still) Need Nation States” with Reza Aslan (Creative Writing) later this year. (Post)Pandemic Futures organizes events such as “Why the Arts / How the Arts in a Post-Pandemic World?” (Erith Jaffe-Berg, TFDP), “Objectivity in the Humanities” (Paul Kottman, Institute for Philosophy and the New Humanities at the New School in NY) and “Resilience” (Michele Salzman, History). Roots and Wings: Global Education launches the Center’s new guest scholar program. Funded by the Office of the VPIA, we will host an international guest scholar for a workshop with students and a lecture inspired by ideas of cosmopolitan education. Desert in Action – still in the making! – brings UCR faculty out to the desert for off-campus salons and on-campus lectures.

Stay tuned for more details as we update our website over the coming weeks– and join us for these and more events at the Center in winter and spring! And for those who enjoyed our first Happy Hour event in November, rest assured: There will be more.


Jeanette and Dylan