Kenyon College’s is one of the leading liberal arts colleges in the United States. Founded in 1824 and situated in the Ohio countryside, Kenyon is a private non-profit institution, with a student population of approximately 1700 undergraduates and 200 faculty. We have 32 departments and programs across disciplines in Humanistic Studies, the Arts, and the Sciences. Our educational commitments closely dovetail with the Humanities Across Borders manifesto. As we put it, Kenyon’s mission is to “build strong foundations for lives of purpose and consequence. We harness the transformative power of a liberal arts education — engaging in spirited, informed, and collaborative inquiry — to form a deeper, more nuanced understanding of the world and all who inhabit it.”
We, too, believe in the HAB principles that academic institutions should reclaim their “rightful civic role and responsibility at the confluence of multiple modes of knowledge.” To this end we also have established an Office of Community Partnerships that promotes engagement with nearby towns and the farms and farmers around us. In addition, we see this local engagement as a key site of connection with our HAB partners.
For all these reasons and our past participation in HAB projects, Kenyon looks forward to providing a “institutional space” for HAB 2.0—and beyond. Professor Wendy Singer, the Roy T Wortman Distinguished Professor of History and Director of Asian and Middle East Studies (AMES) has been organizing activities on the Kenyon campus to bring together the many projects and commitments that cross the boundaries of academic and civic space. We teach courses on the Anthropology or Sociology of Food that take students into the community to understand the very different perspectives on food production and food consumption.
In addition, we have implemented on Kenyon’s campus a program modeled on the HAB “Reading Leiden,” that introduced international students to the local community to write and talk about it in global terms. This “in situ” learning is one of the advantages of the HAB methodology. Also, in December of 2019, Kenyon collaborated with the International institute for Asian Studies and two other HAB partners—the Madras Institute for Development Studies (MIDS) and Ambedkar University in Delhi to hold a “Writing and Storytelling Workshop” in Chennai, India. Most significantly the workshop brought together a filmmaker, a photographer, and an NGO leader, along with students, at various levels, and academics as both teachers and learners, discussing and writing about issues related to social and economic justice, inequality, and migration.
In the future we expect to continue and expand these programs. Also we have plans to broaden our collaborations. Kenyon’s President, Sean Decatur, met with leaders and Principal Investigators in India in March 2020 and in May of 2022, Aarti Kawlra, and Philippe Peycam (from HAB at IIAS) and Maja Vodopivec (from Leiden University College) visited Kenyon for four days engaging with students, faculty, and administrators, supporting Humanities Across Borders initiatives. In addition we have a colleague in Japan, visiting partners in Kyoto and a student in Taipei, visiting projects there.
Advancing HAB principles around Kenyon works in tandem with our goals to create shared activities with colleagues and their community partners across the consortium. Looking ahead we would like to collaborate on a “Storytelling” or “Writing” workshop with various partners online that will allow ongoing contact across the consortium, strengthening our network.
Prof. Jeffrey Bowman, Provost
Prof. Wendy Singer, Professor of History and Director of Asian and Middle East Studies (AMES)