Nicoletta Ruane is a PhD candidate in our Philosophy department and will be speaking about her assistantship with Illinois Humanities at a brown bag talk on Tuesday, October 3 from 12pm-1pm at Crown Center 528. This is a great opportunity for humanities graduate students looking to explore non-academic options. A recent interview with Ms. Ruane can be found on the Graduate School’s Professional Development page. Ms. Ruane spoke with us about herself and the program:
I work in the area of social and political philosophy and teach as an adjunct instructor at Loyola and other area colleges. I also work on the Owl of Minerva, the journal of the Hegel Society of America. I’m currently writing a dissertation where I aim to develop a theoretical approach to post-capitalist institution formation. When it’s all over, I hope one day to write on aesthetics again as well.
As a philosopher, one is often acutely aware that few people understand what goes on in the profession and what it’s all for, and that this question mark often hangs over the humanities in general.
What was most appealing to me about working at Illinois Humanities (IH) was learning what public, i.e., non-academic, humanities offerings look like in Illinois and how they are developed. With less than 40 percent of the US completing a bachelor’s degree (and assuming there is some exposure to the humanities in college or university), the wealth that the disciplines have to offer, at least as that is presented in higher education, is not accessed by the majority.
IH has positioned itself as a rather non-traditional state humanities council, and I’ll be talking a bit about what that means. The organization works pretty ambitiously to connect a broad general audience in different areas of interest: to the history of the state, and its regions and towns; to contemporary art, music and culture; to political representatives and leading intellectuals on social and civic issues; even offering programs geared toward the journalism and business communities. The program I was brought on to develop, Illinois Speaks, is a state-wide civic engagement series, so it fell under the public policy umbrella of programs, but as it grew, we were able to draw in some of IH’s sizeable arts and culture audience.
I valued the opportunity to work there for a year because I learned some ways to share what the humanities offer, in particular the historical and cultural perspective they provide, in the form of creative and accessible public programming. Broadly speaking, this sort of work will be attractive to those who are oriented to the social good and enjoy organizational challenges. I’ll be speaking specifically next month on what I learned, the tasks involved, the specific skills needed, and how those may relate to the experiences and training of graduate students.
All humanities graduate students are invited on October 3. Bring your questions!