UCHRI | Annual Report

From the Assistant Director


MacArthur Foundation
Connected Academics

“[UCHRI] is the future of education. It is all about interdisciplinarity and collaboration. We keep talking about it in workshops and seminars, but here we are actually figuring it out and moving forward with it.”
—Shahab Malik, UC Riverside

2014-2015 Initiatives

Humanities and Changing Conceptions of Work

The Humanities and Changing Conceptions of Work is a three-year multicampus research initiative devoted to exploring and assessing the critical historical and contemporary transformations in the meaning and experience of work. Globalization has profoundly impacted not just what work is available but how and where we work, what we think of as work, and what skills the humanities and interpretative social sciences must teach to prepare students for work.

This three-year multicampus research initiative, funded by an $800,000 grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, seeks to comprehend and illuminate the changing conceptions and experience of work in the face of recent global economic, technological, and social developments, and to address the implications for the Humanities. It also explores how humanities practitioners can prepare students for the work that awaits them in 21st-century global society.


Humanists@Work is a new initiative UCHRI launched in December 2014. Designed to assist UC humanities graduate students as they consider a variety of career paths, the initiative is a targeted continuation of UCHRI’s Mellon-funded program, Humanities and Changing Conceptions of Work. Over three years, Humanists@Work will conduct six workshops, work with UC affiliates to identify best practices in graduate student training, and track graduate students along their career paths. With a focus on supporting graduate students and fostering dialogue between students and faculty, Humanists@Work is well suited to UCHRI’s mission of actively participating in the conversations about the future of humanities and higher education.

Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory

The Seminar in Experimental Critical Theory (SECT) is an intensive ten-day summer program offered by UCHRI. SECT convenes distinguished instructors with a group of 40-60 faculty, graduate students, independent scholars, and public intellectuals from both the US and the international community. Neither an introductory survey nor an advanced research seminar, SECT functions as a “laboratory” where participants at all levels of experience can study with scholars at the leading edge of creative theoretical thought. The hallmark of SECT is its attention to both “pure” and “applied” modes of contemporary critical theory.

Two key features separate SECT from the run-of-the-mill academic gathering. First, SECT is ten days of intensive engagement, combining formal talks and panels, lightning presentations, breakout groups, social gatherings, guest speakers, site tours, and more. And second, SECT participants are a curated group:  a core handful of invited faculty plus several dozen faculty, graduate students, artists, activists, public intellectuals and others from around the world, selected with an eye toward intriguing juxtapositions, collaborations, and conversations that challenge assumptions, push boundaries, and take both the “critical” and the “experimental” seriously.

War Comes Home: Our Veterans, Our Communities

UCHRI and Cal Humanities partnered on five public conversations surrounding issues concerning U.S. Veterans and their transition to life at home. These conversations brought together a diverse group of service members, public scholars, filmmakers, and community leaders to publicly discuss a wide array of issues facing returning soldiers. Events were held across the state at city public libraries and were designed to be accessible and engaging for local communities.

Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs

The Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs Humanities Studio Initiative (RIDAGA) is a three-year initiative funded by the Henry Luce Foundation. Dedicated to exploring the complex cultural and political relations between diasporic religious communities and their self-identified homelands, this dynamic multi-campus and multidisciplinary initiative is redefining what collaborative humanist scholarship and collaboration looks like. Among many RIDAGA-related activities,  UCHRI has funded a one-year working group of UC faculty, international scholars, journalists, and policy organizations and four Studio projects. Each Studio comprises at least one faculty PI, one graduate student, a working media professional, and a global scholar. Committed to research discovery on a focal theme or topic, the Humanities Studio brings innovative research, pedagogy, and public applications into interactive and interdisciplinary collaborative production.

Digital Media + Learning Research Hub

The Digital Media and Learning (DML) Research Hub’s mission is to advance research in the service of a more equitable, participatory, and effective ecosystem of learning keyed to the digital and networked era. Located at the systemwide University of California Humanities Research Institute and hosted at UC Irvine, all of the research hub’s activities — which include original research, blogs, and conferences — are supported by the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation’s Digital Media and Learning Initiative.

DML Research Hub investigates the ways in which digital technology is changing learning environments, social and civic institutions, and youth culture. The hub works to support the growth of the emerging digital media and learning field and spreads thought leadership and best practices for next generation learning and civics.

Digital Media + Learning Competition

The Digital Media and Learning Competition is a program designed to find and to inspire the most novel uses of new media in support of connected learning. Over the past eight years, the Competition has awarded over $12 million to more than 100 projects — including games, mobile phone applications, virtual worlds, social networks, and digital badge platforms — that explore how technologies are changing the way people learn and participate in daily life.

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[While interning at UCHRI], my graduate training in the humanities came to appear to me as an asset that, if applied in the public sector, could have a real (unique, positive) material impact on people’s daily lives.”
Whitney DeVos, UCSC


Our initiatives have produced a number of projects, which are shown here (if necessary, use the left and right arrows to scroll). Click on an individual project to learn more.