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Saturday June 12th

New initiative hopes to expand students' engagement with arts and humanities

Kwame Anthony Appiah speaks to an audience about ethics in the humanities in Kenan Theater on Thursday evening.
Buy Photos Kwame Anthony Appiah speaks to an audience about ethics in the humanities in Kenan Theater on Thursday evening.

Carolina’s Human Heart: Living the Arts and Humanities will organize lectures, conferences and performances highlighting the similarities between the humanities and other disciplines.

Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean of fine arts and humanities, said the initiative will consist of six themes — social justice, enlightened citizenry, tolerance and understanding, global engagement, food and the environment and storytelling.

“We want to shine a spotlight on the great work being done by faculty, staff, students and alumni in the arts and humanities, particularly in the six subject themes,” Rhodes said.

Rhodes is spearheading this effort along with Kevin Guskiewicz, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences.

“(Rhodes) has been amazing at coordinating this effort,” Guskiewicz said. “She works very closely with faculty and students to pull the programming together for the initiative.”

The initiative’s first event — a lecture by New York Times columnist Kwame Anthony Appiah — was held Thursday night in Kenan Theatre.

Appiah is a professor of law and philosophy at New York University and is currently a columnist for The New York Times.

Appiah said humanities play more of a role in morals and ethics than the sciences.

“Humanities and the arts are inspiration of moral understanding,” he said.

Rhodes said she sees a bright future ahead for the initiative.

“We hope to raise the visibility internally and externally of the great work being done,” she said. “We want to spark creative conversations.”

Guskiewicz said he believes Carolina’s Human Heart will be the link for many other existing projects and departments across UNC.

“This initiative provides an opportunity to showcase the great work our students and faculty are doing and to emphasize that Carolina is a place where we value interdisciplinary endeavors,” he said.

Guskiewicz said that although more emphasis is put on STEM education, he believes there is a tremendous value in a liberal arts education.

The initiative gives students a chance to see the great work already being done in the humanities and fine arts disciplines on campus.

Rhodes said the initiative’s website has many opportunities for people to further conversations and collaborations. She said it serves as a platform to explore the six themes of the initiative. Events listed on the website are categorized by which of the themes they highlight.

“I so want students to be a part of it,” Rhodes said. “I would love to see student knowledge, interaction and involvement.”

Guskiewicz said there is a large emphasis at UNC of the liberal arts — something he hopes the initiative will further.

“We’re a place where the natural sciences blend nicely with the social sciences,” he said. “We can break the silos and together we can solve the challenges of our time.”

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