Oregon Humanities

Oregon Humanities, formerly known as the Oregon Council for the Humanities, is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities for the U.S. state of Oregon.

Oregon Humanities
Oregon Humanities logo.png
Formation1971; 51 years ago (1971)
Headquarters921 SW Washington St.
Executive director
Adam Davis
Formerly called
Oregon Council for the Humanities, Oregon Committee for the Humanities

Description and historyEdit

Oregon Humanities is an independent, nonprofit affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH),[2][3] the federal agency of the U.S. government established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965 (Pub.L. 89–209) to support research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.

The organization was established as the Oregon Committee for the Humanities[4] in 1971 as one of 56 humanities councils in the states and territories of the United States. Since 2001, Oregon Humanities has been one of Oregon Cultural Trust's five partners.[2][5] Its mission is to "connect people and communities through conversation, storytelling, and participatory programs to inspire understanding and collaborative change'",[1][3] and its vision is "an Oregon that invites diverse perspectives, explores challenging questions and strives for just communities".[2][5] Oregon Humanities is supported by grants and donations from individuals and works in partnership with libraries and organizations such as Adelante Mujeres, the Portland Children's Museum, and Portland Playhouse.[6] The organization has also partnered with Cambia Health Solutions.[6]

Adam Davis became Oregon Humanities' fifth executive director in 2013, replacing Cara Ungar.[3][7] NEH profiled Davis in their November–December 2015 issue of Humanities.[6] Robert Arellano, an author, musician, and educator who teaches at Southern Oregon University and created its Center for Emerging Media and Digital Arts in 2010, joined the affiliate's board of directors in January 2016.[3]

Programs and activitiesEdit

Oregon Humanities' programs include:[2] Oregon Humanities magazine;[8] The Conversation Project, a series of facilitated discussions hosted by a local businesses, community group, or nonprofit organizations on subjects relevant to their members;[6][9] Humanity in Perspective, a free college-level humanities course offered to low income adults without a college education;[10] "Consider This" events, hosted quarterly;[11] and grants to other organizations.[12]

"Humanity in Perspective" was created in collaboration with Reed College and has been offered in Portland, Salem, and the Eastern Oregon Correctional Institution.[10]

In March 2015, the organization debuted "Future: Portland", a video inspired by Ifanyi Bell's essay in the "Quandary" issue of Oregon Humanities about the challenges of growing up black in Portland ("The Air I Breathe",[13] Fall–Winter 2014).[8][14][15] The video, which was produced by Bell and Brushfire Creative Partners with funds provided by the James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation, addresses gentrification and features local black civic leaders sharing their perspectives, describing the loss of the city's black communities, and expressing their hope for cultural restoration.[8][14][15][16]

The Conservation ProjectEdit

The "Conversation Project" series "brings Oregonians together to discuss their differences, beliefs and backgrounds about important issues and ideas".[17] According to the Oregon Culture Trust, the series "offers Oregon nonprofits free, educational public discussion programs about important topics that affect our daily lives".[18] Its stated goal is to "give diverse communities statewide—neighbors and strangers alike—the opportunity to engage in humanities-based, public conversations that are timely and relevant".[18]

Discussions are facilitated by "humanities scholars—artists, community leaders, innovators, provocateurs, and other engaged thinkers", having been recruited by Oregon Humanities.[18] The organization seeks facilitators who are "smart, passionate about ideas, able to listen to others, and curious-individuals who understand the role of the humanities in the public sphere, but who are also teachers at heart, regardless of their day job".[18]

Between 2011 and 2016 Oregon Humanities offered "Why Aren't There More Black People in Oregon?", a conversation led by Walidah Imarisha about the history of racism in Oregon, as part of its "Conversation Project" series.[19] During March–May 2016, Linfield College hosted events addressing diversity, including: "White Out? The Future of Racial Diversity in Oregon", "Northwest Mixtape: Hip Hop Culture and Influences", and "Mind the Gaps: How Gender Shapes our Lives".[17]


  1. ^ a b "About Oregon Humanities". Oregon Humanities. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  2. ^ a b c d "Oregon Humanities". Oregon Blue Book. Oregon Secretary of State. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  3. ^ a b c d Zavala, Joe (January 14, 2016). "SOU professor joins Oregon Humanities board of directors". Ashland Daily Tidings. Local Media Group. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  4. ^ "Looking Back, Looking Forward". Oregon Humanities magazine. Oregon Humanities. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  5. ^ a b "Oregon Humanities". Federation of State Humanities Councils. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  6. ^ a b c d Campbell, Brett (November–December 2015). "Adam Davis of Oregon Humanities". Humanities. National Endowment for the Humanities. 36 (6). Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  7. ^ Scott, Aaron (April 22, 2013). "Breaking: Oregon Humanities Announces Its New Executive Director". Portland Monthly. ISSN 1546-2765. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  8. ^ a b c Parks, Casey (March 17, 2015). "Portland gentrification video: 'This is painful, but we can do something'". The Oregonian. Advance Publications. ISSN 8750-1317. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  9. ^ "Conversation Project". Oregon Humanities. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  10. ^ a b National Endowment for the Humanities:
    • "Oregon". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
    • "Oregon" (PDF). National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  11. ^ "Consider This". Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  12. ^ "Grants". Oregon Humanities. Retrieved May 14, 2021.
  13. ^ Bell, Ifanyi (Fall–Winter 2014). "The Air I Breathe". Oregon Humanities (Quandary). Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  14. ^ a b Clapp, Michael (March 17, 2015). "Oregon Humanities Video Tackles Loss of Black Culture in Portland". Oregon Public Broadcasting. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  15. ^ a b "Magazine Extras: Loss and Hope for Portland's Black Communities". Oregon Humanities. Retrieved July 12, 2016.
  16. ^ "Future Portland, Oregon Humanities (5:28)". City of Portland, Oregon. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  17. ^ a b "Linfield to host Oregon Humanities Conversation Projects". Linfield College. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  18. ^ a b c d "Partner Focus: Oregon Humanities is Seeking a Few Good People". Oregon Cultural Trust. Retrieved July 13, 2016.
  19. ^ "A Hidden History". Oregon Humanities. Retrieved May 14, 2021.

External linksEdit