I am pleased to announce the formation of the CAS Taskforce on the Humanities, convened for the first time in early May. Similar to the Social Sciences Taskforce convened earlier this semester, the taskforce has been charged to look towards a vision for the “next generation” of the humanities broadly across the College and University beyond. Specifically, the taskforce will aim 1) to develop four to five cross-cutting themes where CAS has distinctive strengths and is positioned to lead research and education in the humanities, 2) to articulate the essential roles that humanities can play across BU’s interdisciplinary programs and centers, and 3) to outline the structure and resources needed in CAS to support and stimulate more vibrant humanities research and educational community at BU. A full outline of the Taskforce’s charge is below.

This Taskforce was being planned before the COVID-19 pandemic took hold. The finalization of BU’s Strategic Plan and preparation for Arts & Sciences to draft its corresponding strategic plan provided an opportune time for considering the role of the Humanities in the College, Boston University, and the world. While today’s circumstances place these planning exercises in a new light, they also serve to highlight the crucial importance of understanding our world and the human condition.  

Taskforce members:

  • Carrie Preston, Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor & Director, Kilachand Honors College; Professor, Department of English Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies Program (Chair of the Taskforce)
  • Daniel Abramson, Professor of American & European Architecture
  • Andrea Berlin, Professor of Archaeology and Religion and Weisman Chair in Classical Archaeology
  • Charles Chang, Assistant Professor of Linguistics
  • Louis Chude-Sokei, Professor of English and Wein Chair for African American Studies & Director of African American Studies Program
  • Sarah Frederick, Associate Professor of Japanese and Comparative Literature
  • Anna Henchman, Associate Professor of English
  • James Johnson, Professor of History
  • Marisa Milanese, Master Lecturer in Writing Program
  • Will Moore, Associate Professor of American Material Culture & Director of American and New England Studies Program
  • Anthony Petro, Associate Professor of Religion and Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies
  • Adela Pineda, Professor of Spanish & Director of Latin American Studies
  • Russell Powell, Associate Professor of Philosophy
  • Kate Snodgrass, Professor of the Practice in Playwriting & Artistic Director of Boston Playwrights’ Theatre
  • James Uden, Associate Professor of Classical Studies

Representing the CAS Dean’s Office and supporting the committee as ex officio members:

  • Margaret Bolter, Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives
  • Karl Kirchwey, Professor of English & Associate Dean of the Faculty for the Humanities

We intend for there to be close consultation with faculty and staff in departments and interdisciplinary programs, as well as undergraduate and graduate students and alumni. The taskforce will prepare a draft report by late Fall and submit a final report by early January 2021.

I would like to thank Professor Carrie Preston and the taskforce members for agreeing to lead this important effort in the College, and I greatly appreciate all input and support from the CAS faculty in this process. The work of the Humanities Taskforce and other taskforces will be pivotal as we co-develop a shared strategic vision for our College during the 2020/2021 academic year.  We are working on composing and charging other taskforces over the coming months, and we will announce the overall structure for College-level strategic planning in the early Fall.

Stan Sclaroff
Dean of Arts & Sciences
Boston University