Humanities Institute

About the Institute

Difficult Dialogues forumFounded in 2001, the Humanities Institute at The University of Texas at Austin is one of the youngest centers for the humanities at major American universities. It is also among the most innovative in its mission and in the scope and character of the community partnership and public humanities programs that it sponsors. The Institute has gained widespread recognition both for interdisciplinary academic programs that have broadened and deepened collaborative inquiry and collegiality on the UT campus and for civic initiatives that have helped place UT-Austin in the vanguard of a national trend to bring intellectual engagement with local communities from the margins to the center of the public university's mission.

Projects such as the Community Sabbatical Research Leave program, the Free Minds Project, and Difficult Dialogues, and collaborative and participatory public forums on such subjects as religion, politics, and values, have begun to shift the dominant paradigm of university-community relations from an "outreach" or "service" model to one in which the academy not only dispenses knowledge but also recognizes, supports, collaborates with, and learns from, the citizens and organizations that are producing knowledge every day beyond its walls.

"The Humanities Institute has in its short existence become indispensable to the intellectual mission of the University." - James Buhler, Associate Professor of Music


The Humanities Institute at The University of Texas at Austin understands "the humanities" to encompass all the forms of artistic expression, intellectual inquiry, and everyday experience through which people explore the meanings and challenges of human life. [...]


The mission of the Humanities Institute is to build civic and intellectual community-within, across, and beyond the University's walls-by bringing people together to explore issues and ideas that matter. [...]