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Humanities Education

Humanities Education Focal Group (HEFG) explores issues concerning teaching and learning in the humanities, including research on student learning, innovation in pedagogy, the role of new technologies in humanities instruction, and professional issues for humanities teachers at all educational levels. In recent years, the HEFG has hosted speakers on a variety of current issues, ranging from alternative academic career paths to research on foreign language acquisition at the university level. It is chaired by Professor Lisa Surwillo (Iberian and Latin American Cultures) and coordinated by PhD candidates Monica VanBladel (ILAC) and Jenny Strakovsky (German). DLCL affiliates can join the group by logging in with their SUNetID. 

We have an exciting line-up of events for the 2016-17 academic year - please scroll down for more information about upcoming events. Join our mailing list here:


Past events

Spring Quarter 2017


When and How to Recruit Arts and Humanities Students: Field Observations

A workshop with David Wilson, D.M.A. (Stanford PhD student, musicology)


Tuesday, May 23, 12:00-1:00 pm

Pigott Hall (building 260) room 216


What encourages students to explore the arts and humanities? When and why do students decide they are not "that kind of student"? How do we make humanities and the arts appealing courses of study in high school and college? Join us for a conversation with David Wilson, academic and vocal arts performer and instructor. Participants are encouraged to speak from their own disciplinary perspectives in this open workshop as we consider possibilities for increased and collaborative recruitment. 


Discussion will be based on a presentation of Wilson's experiences as well as two brief readings*, which consider music education. (Please note that the Evans article focuses on 14- to 19-year-olds in the British educational system.) We welcome participants to consider commonalities and differences between the points raised in the readings and their own disciplinary experiences.



* Readings can be downloaded from the event webpage for this workshop:


Winter Quarter 2017

We are thrilled to welcome Stacy Hartman, a graduate of the German Studies PhD in the DLCL, to return to Stanford in her role as Program Coordinator of the MLA's Connected Academics project. She will lead two excellent events for us this February:
"Humanists at Large: Humanities Education in an Age of Precarity" 
A talk by Stacy Hartman, PhD, Program Coordinator of "Connected Academics," MLA
Thursday, February 16, 12:00-1:00 pm
Pigott Hall (building 260) room 252
The humanities, both within and without the academy, appear to be in a state of permanent precarity, always on the verge of extinction but never actually collapsing altogether. One area in which this precarity is keenly felt is in employment for early-career humanists, who are less likely now than ever to find full-time, tenure-track employment within the academy. This leaves many young humanists with two options: pursue a series of short-term, part-time teaching contracts or become “humanists at large.”
In her talk, Stacy Hartman will argue that today's climate calls all of us to become “humanists at large,” wherever we find ourselves in relation to the tenure track. She will consider the implications of this argument for humanities education and explore such questions as: How does changing our conception of our present moment from one of “crisis” to one of “precarity” alter our thinking? How might humanities education, particularly at the doctoral level, adapt to its permanently precarious circumstances? Finally, what does it mean to be a humanist at large in the so-called “post-truth” era?
Workshop: Transferable Skills and Résumés for Humanities PhDs
Facilitated by Stacy Hartman, PhD
Friday, February 17, 12:00-1:30 pm
Pigott Hall (building 260) room 252
This 90-minute workshop provides an introduction to articulating transferable skills and writing a nonacademic résumé. What do we bring to the table as humanities PhDs, and how can we articulate our strengths for nonacademic job applications? What kind of résumé works best for humanities PhDs? Participants have the chance to index their skills and interests, analyze job ads in the light of transferable skills, begin working on their résumés, and receive feedback on their materials. 

Fall Quarter 2016

The Slow Professor: Challenging the Culture of Speed in the Academy (A Book Discussion)

Friday, November 4th at 12:00 pm
Pigott Hall (260), Room 216

Please join us for our first event of the academic year, when we will discuss the book by Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber.  

A brief description of the book: If there is one sector of society that should be cultivating deep thought in itself and others, it is academia. Yet the corporatisation of the contemporary university has sped up the clock, demanding increased speed and efficiency from faculty regardless of the consequences for education and scholarship.In The Slow Professor, Maggie Berg and Barbara K. Seeber discuss how adopting the principles of the Slow movement in academic life can counter this erosion of humanistic education. Focusing on the individual faculty member and his or her own professional practice, Berg and Seeber present both an analysis of the culture of speed in the academy and ways of alleviating stress while improving teaching, research, and collegiality. The Slow Professor will be a must-read for anyone in academia concerned about the frantic pace of contemporary university life.

The first 20 to RSVP will receive a complimentary copy of this book.
Please specify which chapter of the book you would like to discuss in your RSVP.

Thank you to everyone who attended the Slow Professor​ Book Discussion on November 4th! We are excited to share a blog post written by one of the attendees, Chris Golde, BEAM Career Counselor for Humanities PhDs and former Associate VPGE, available here:  |  Please feel free to reach out if you are interested in attending follow up discussions about slowing down in our teaching, research, and professional community.


2015-2016 Events 

Reimagining the Doctoral Experience

Sidonie Smith
Professor of English, University of Michigan
Director of Institute for the Humanities
Former President, Modern Language Association
Thursday, April 28, 2016, at 12:00 pm 
Room 252, Building 260
We are thrilled to welcome Professor Smith back to Stanford, to talk about her recent book, "Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times," available in full at the link. 
To quote Professor Smith: "The 'Grand Challenge' confronting academic humanists is the imperative of sustaining passionate conviction about the value of studying the humanities...Responsibility for that sustainability -- in the academy, in the nation, and around the globe -- lies in part with humanities doctoral students, now or soon-to-be entering careers, who are driven by the desire to continue conversations, journeys and discoveries, whether they take place in archives, in the logic of the assertion, or in the dirt of the dig." 

Why Should We Care About Common Core?

A Series co-sponsored by the HEFG and H&S Dean's Office. 

The Common Core State Standards Initiative is currently implementing a new K-12 curriculum across public schools in California. Common Core will significantly change how children learn both humanities and STEM. In English and Language Arts, for example, the standards suggest that students should move toward reading 70% non-fiction texts by senior year of high school, to develop "college- and career-level reading" using "complex texts and their academic language." As educators, we must become informed about this policy and consider how it will alter our teaching in the coming decade. In conjunction with the School of Humanities and Sciences Dean's Office, we invite you to join us for two events about Common Core and its implication for college-level humanities. On April 8th, Professor Michael Kirst and Sr. Lecturer Jennifer Wolf will introduce the Common Core Standards for grades 6-12. On April 14th, we gather as a community to begin a dialogue about how Common Core could change our own approach in the classroom. 

The Humanities in Tomorrow's Schools:
"Almost Everything Changes" 

A Lecture Discussion with: 
President Michael Kirst of the California State Board of Education
Dr. Jennifer Wolf, Senior Lecturer, Stanford School of Education
April 8th, 12:00 pm, 
Terrace Room, Margaret Jacks Hall

We will be focusing on the English and Language Arts standards of the Common Core.
You can check them out here, on pg 46-54:


Common Core and Humanities Education:
Are WE "College-ready"?

A Roundtable with: 

Professor Russell Berman, Director of Thinking Matters and Introductory Seminars
Emma Dunbar, Assistant Principal, Presidio Middle School, San Francisco
Professor Dan Edelstein, Faculty, Summer Humanities Institute and Stanford Humanities House
Dr. Deborah Tennen, Chief Content Officer at Shmoop e-learning platform

April 14th, 5:30 pm,
Third Floor Lounge, Building 260

Reading from PMLA:
Lisa Zunshine, "The Secret Life of Fiction,"
John David Guillory, "Common Core and the Evasion of Curriculum"

Hors d'oeuvres will be served. 



Thinking Otherwise: Sustained Consideration in a Climate of Immediacy

A Dialogue with:

Chanelle Adams, Editor of Blue Stockings Magazine (
Ralph E. Rodriguez, Brown University, Associate Professor of American Studies, Ethnic Studies, and English

Friday November 13th, at 12:30 pm
Pigott Hall (260), Room 216


We like. We tweet. We share. But do we really think?

In this dialogue, Adams and Rodriguez will discuss the constraints and possibilities of thinking in an era of immediacy. As the classroom, activism and writing increasingly demand an ethos of rapid knowing, Adams and Rodriguez are interested in what it looks like to not know – yet. How is today's culture of snap-back online dialogue changing how we think and relate to each other? How do we work with rather than eschew difficult issues? As teachers of the humanities, how do we find space to "consider"? To what extent does "snapping back" come at the cost of authentic discourse? 


Snapping Back, Slowing Down. The Feminist Think Piece Industrial Complex, by Chanelle Adams:

Calling IN: A Less Disposable Way of Holding Each Other Accountable, by Ngoc Loan Tran

Why I Use Trigger Warnings, by Kate Manne


The Illusion of Safey, by Roxanna Gay.(please see PDF on event page)


How do we conceptualize and frame service in the humanities?
How can it become a more integrated part of our lives as humanists?
How might understanding teaching and research as service affect the sort of work that we do?

Co-sponsored by the Office of Community Engagement, the Stanford Humanities Center, and the Haas Center for Public Service