Center for the Humanities

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Message from the Director

David Foster Wallace wrote that “the most obvious, ubiquitous, important realities are often the ones that are the hardest to see and talk about.” Humanistic inquiry at Drake University brings us together to explore these hard-to-see things.  Humanities faculty endeavor to create insights about justice, beauty, transcendence, empathy, and imagination. It is the work that imagines other possible worlds and sees the present world with greater clarity.  These efforts are urgent in this historical moment, amidst competing assertions that asking the deepest questions about our human condition are not worthy of money or attention.  These messages emerge from overreliance on quantifiable metrics to define the success of higher education.  It projects from powerful national rhetorics that belittle the University and intellectual work.  These ideologies become social reality as they manifest into budgets, strategic plans, hiring directives, executive orders, and tax policies.

The Center is Drake University’s institutional space to offer a different vision through collegial solidarity, scholarly effort, and financial support. The Director and the Board realize this vision through its primary responsibilities.  We support colleagues to reach intellectual aspirations.  We deliberate to achieve accountable and careful administrative stewardship.  The Center proudly funds stimulating public events within our city and on our campus.  The Center is our collective project to support faculty, build a robust climate of inclusion and equity, and serve as a voice for the humanities in the City of Des Moines.  Our University holds a well-earned reputation for outstanding faculty, student, and community exploration of the diverse ways that humanistic disciplines contribute to the important questions of our time and nation.

Whether you are a long-time affiliated faculty member, a student interested in the humanities, or newly arrived to campus – Welcome!  Come be a part of the many activities, funding opportunities and awards the Center offers to invigorate humanistic inquiry on campus and out in the world. 

Darcie Vandegrift, PhD
Professor of Sociology
Director, Center for the Humanities
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