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Past Events: Public Humanities Graduate Research Workshop

2021-2022 events


Public Humanities Graduate Research Symposium

May 12, 2022 (Thurs.)
9:30am-5:00pm CST
Kresge Hall (various rooms)

FREE! Public welcome!

This all-day event will showcase the projects of the Kaplan Public Humanities Graduate Research Workshop participants. We invite the broader Northwestern community to a multifaceted conversation about the public humanities at the university and beyond.

Event conveners

Negar Razavi, ACLS Emerging Voices Fellow of the Kaplan Institute
Rebekah Bryer, doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama Program

Location Key

Each presentation will be followed by Q&A/discussion. You can read about each presenter's projects here.

9:30 am – Breakfast (Kaplan Seminar Room)

9:45 am – Welcome, Jessica Winegar, Kaplan Institute Director, and Panel 1 (Trienens Forum)

11:10 am – Panel 2 (Trienens Forum)

12:30 pm – Lunch (Kaplan Seminar Room)

1:30 pm – Panel 3 (Trienens Forum)

2:55pm – Panel 4 (Trienens Forum)

4:15pm – Reception (Kaplan Seminar Room)


2022_04_20_the-pandemic-job-search-300px.jpgThe Pandemic Job Search: Launching a Career Outside the University

April 20, 2022 (Wed.)
5:00-6:30pm CST

Via Zoom (registration required)
Free. Public Welcome!

Featuring panelists:
Rachel Grimm (
Los Alamos National Lab), Emily Sekine (SAPIENS Magazine), and Angela Tate (Smithsonian National Museum of African American History & Culture)

Moderated by Ruth Curry (Northwestern Center for Civic Engagement), this panel will offer practical advice for grad students about finding—and applying for—jobs in the public humanities. Each panelist found their position during the pandemic and will offer tips for current grad students about navigating the job market.

thompson-author-photo-2021-260x260.jpgWhen What You Research Becomes Breaking News

Erin Thompson
Associate Professor of Art Crime
John Jay College of Criminal Justice, CUNY

March 9, 2022 (Wed.)
5:00-6:30pm CST
Via Zoom (registration required)
Free. Public Welcome!

As an expert in art crime, monuments, and repatriation, Erin Thompson will discuss how scholars working on topics that become the subject of public controversy can develop strategies to effectively weigh into these debates and weather the storm of public outrage. 

Thompson will be in conversation with Jessica Winegar (Director of the Kaplan Humanities Institute and Professor in Anthropology) and Rebekah Bryer, doctoral candidate in the Interdisciplinary PhD in Theatre and Drama Program.

Erin Thompson is Associate Professor of Art Crime at CUNY's John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Known as the "Art Crime Prof," Thompson studies the black market for looted antiquities, art forgery, museum theft, the ethics of digital reproductions of cultural heritage, art made by detainees at Guantánamo Bay, and a variety of other overlaps between art and crime.

Her book, Smashing Statues: The Rise and Fall of America’s Public Monuments (Norton, February 2022), traces the turbulent history and abundant ironies of our monuments. She has written and spoken about the science of public art, the history of protests, the legal barriers to removal of controversial art, and examples of innovative approaches to the problem in venues including Art in America, Hyperallergic, Smithsonian Magazine, bitch, and the New York Times.


staff-antonio.jpgEthical Community Engagement Through the Lens of Environmental Justice

A conversation aimed at rethinking the university-community power dynamic with Dr. Antonio Reyes López

January 10, 2022 (Mon.)
12:00-1:30pm CST
Via Zoom (pre-registration required)
Free. Public Welcome!

Environmental Justice (EJ) communities experience a disproportionate burden of harmful contaminants and pollution, and are often most vulnerable to climate related disasters. In addition to leading grassroots campaigns to protect their communities, EJ organizations experience tremendous pressure to accommodate university-based researchers and student projects.

As a trained historian and the former Executive Director of the Little Village Environmental Justice Organization (LVEJO) in Chicago, Dr. Antonio López has worked to bridge university and grassroots communities so that university projects are in deep alignment with grassroots strategies and campaigns. In this session, Dr. López will share about his efforts to experiment with collaborative research designs so that participants understand common mistakes that limit community-based research approaches. Arguing that humanities and science professors should resist the extraction of knowledge from communities, and valuable time and resources from Environmental Justice organizations, Dr. López will facilitate a grounded conversation aimed at rethinking the university-community power dynamic. 

Dr. Antonio Reyes López is currently the director of the Chicago Frontlines Funding Initiative, a grassroots-led funding strategy that supports five place-based EJ organizations in the city. Dr. López was born in Gary, Indiana, raised in Chicago, and was awarded a doctoral degree in Borderlands History from the University of Texas at El Paso.

Presented by Northwestern's Kaplan Institute for the Humanities and Center for Civic Engagement in partnership with One Book One Northwestern, this event is open to all scholars and students interested in developing ethical, sustainable community partnerships.



Critical Race Theory, Politics, and the Future of Critical Public Scholarship

November 9, 2021 (Tues.)
5:00-6:30pm CST
Via Zoom (pre-registration required)
Free; public welcome!

As many school districts across the U.S. move to ban the teaching of “Critical Race Theory” (CRT) in their schools, university-based scholars working on education, race, and racism are struggling to assert their expert voices in this now highly polemical public debate. This event brings two leading critical scholars in these fields to further contextualize the backlash against CRT in broader histories and structures of anti-black racism, while discussing what role critical scholars can/should play in engaging, empowering, and critiquing different publics on this issue. 

Panelists and moderator

kihana miraya ross (panelist) is an assistant professor of African American Studies at Northwestern. Her research examines how Black students live antiblackness in what she calls the afterlife of school segregation. 

David Stovall (panelist) is an associate professor of Educational Policy Studies and Black Studies at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). His research focuses on critical race theory and the relationship between schooling and prisons. 

Shirin Vossoughi (moderator) is an associate professor of Learning Sciences at Northwestern, whose work focuses on how learning can contribute to projects of educational justice. 

2020-2021 EVENTS


Recruitment Perspectives for PhDs

May 21, 2021 

A Career exploration event for humanities and social sciences with Dr. Dana Bilsky Asher, Dr. Kimberly Singletary, and Dr. Greg Acs.

Career Workshops with Elysse Longiotti

April 23 and May 7, 2021


Creating Careers in Public Institutions

April 2, 2021
12:00 - 1:30 pm CST via Zoom
Free. Public Welcome!

A career diversity event with Matti Bunzl (Wien Museum), Livia Alexander (ArteEast), and Michelle Wilkinson (National Museum of African American History and Culture).

Please join us for a dynamic gathering of scholars to consider what it means to work publically. The Kaplan Humanities Institute will host a lively discussion and Q&A with Matti Bunzl, Livia Alexander, and Michelle Wilkinson—scholars who successfully pivoted from academia to forge rewarding careers in public institutions (and still maintain a "foot" in the academy). You’ll learn ways to think about linking your work and interests to thrive in jobs with potential to shape broader publics.

About the speakers

Matti Bunzl is Director of the Wien Museum, Vienna’s municipal museum. Before taking up this position, he was Professor of Anthropology and History at the University of Illinois and Artistic Director of the Chicago Humanities Festival.

Livia Alexander is a New York-based curator, writer, and Assistant Professor of Global Visual Cultures at Montclair State University and co-founder of ArteEast, a global platform for promoting the arts of the Middle East.

Michelle Joan Wilkinson is a curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of African American History and Culture (NMAAHC), where she works on projects related to contemporary black life.
More speaker details on the PlanitPurple event:

Community Collaboration and Public Engagement

February 26, 2021

With Patricia Nguyen, Elliot Heilman, Nadine Naber, and Dino Robinson.

Digital Storytelling Mini Workshop for Graduate Students

February 12, 2021
11:00 am - 12:00 pm CST via Zoom
Free. Public Welcome!

What are the various forms of digital storytelling that academics often turn to share their work? Podcasts sure, but what about visual essays, short films, interactive websites, or online photo exhibits? How can you get started and what do you need to know to share your work? Join C.A. Davis, digital storyteller and producer of the Weinberg Media and Design Studio, for this informal workshop to discuss basic principles of digital storytelling and resources for graduate students. You will be sent different examples of digital storytelling ahead of the workshop. Space is limited, so please register ahead of time!


Defining your Expertise for Public Engagement

January 29, 2021

With Elysse Longiotti (Northwestern Career Advancement) and Amy Güth (writer/screenwriter, broadcaster, and producer) about the ins and outs of social media presence and promotion.


Adapting Your Work to Respond to Public Need

November 13, 2020

Panel discussion with Cynthia Nazarian (French and Italian), Doug Kiel (History and Kaplan Institute), and Jessica Winegar (Anthropology and Kaplan Institute) on how scholars translate and adapt their academic work to different publics in moments of societal crisis or public need. Breakout sessions invited participants to discuss their own motivations and stakes in doing public humanities work, and how they would position their research and expertise.

Initial Meeting—Introductions and Overview

October 30, 2020

For our first workshop event, participants had an opportunity to introduce themselves and discuss their own interests in the public humanities. In addition, Ruth Curry, the Postdoctoral Fellow at the Center for Civic Engagement, helped participants contextualize and understand the place of public humanities within the university structure.


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