Mellon Foundation Initiatives
Boundaries of the Human in the Age of the Life SciencesHumanities Without Walls

Director's Letter

Michael Bérubé2015-16 will be a transitional year at the Institute for the Arts and Humanities. It is my penultimate year as Director, and it is the fiftieth year of the IAH’s history; in 2016, we will be celebrating the half-century mark here.


But amid change, we have established some continuity. I am very pleased to report that Associate Director Lauren Kooistra will stay on beyond this year, and that (relatedly) we have ended the practice of having the Director and Associate Director rotate out of office every three years. My successor will serve a five-year term, and he or she will have a seasoned and exceptionally capable Associate Director to work with.


We have also established some continuity in our postdoc/MFA program: Heather Davis, our postdoctoral scholar for 2014-15, will be here for two more years as part of our new Mellon- funded project, “The Boundaries of the Human in the Age of the Life Sciences.” Meanwhile Serap Erincin, our newly arrived postdoctoral scholar, will enjoy a two-year fellowship. Needless to say, the difference between one-year and two-year fellowships is critical, and I am very happy that our postdoctoral scholars don’t have to arrive on campus and immediately start thinking about applying elsewhere.


Our “Cities” series for 2015-16 will examine city space and city planning rather than one specific city or region, and the presentations by our Resident Scholars and Artists, our Graduate Student Residents, and our Early Modern Junior Scholar will be, as always, open and free to the public.


Last but certainly not least, we are inaugurating a new series for 2015-16 and the following year, a series proposed and overseen by Associate Director Lauren Kooistra. Titled “Truth and Reconciliation,” after the famous South African post-apartheid commission, it is our response to the recent racial tensions that have rocked the United States once again– and an examination of US history and culture with a focus on the African-American experience. Our Fall Film Festival, September 12-13 at the State Theatre, will kick off T&R, featuring challenging and controversial films from Do the Right Thing to Selma, A Raisin in the Sun to Fruitvale Station.


We invite you to join us for the fiftieth year of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities– and we think it might be our most exciting year to date!

Michael Bérubé, Director

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Founded in 1966, Penn State’s Institute for the Arts and Humanities is one of the oldest and most distinctive interdisciplinary centers in the nation, spanning disciplines that range from philosophy to music, from history to dance, from comparative literature to landscape architecture. Penn State is one of a handful of universities whose interdisciplinary institute was designed from the outset to bring together innovative work in the arts and humanities—under one roof, across two colleges. The IAH is committed to the project of involving artists and humanists in every kind of discussion and debate about what it means– and what it has meant– to be human.