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Home | Episode #28
The Same Neighborhood: Humanities & Changemaking
April 12, 2019 | Student Producer:

Amulya Maddali
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The Same Neighborhood: Humanities & Changemaking
Mike Williams, Director of the Changemaker Hub, and Brian Clack, Director of the Humanities Center, talk about why their offices are next door to each other. (4 minutes)
Mike Williams, Director of the Changemaker Hub, and Brian Clack, Director of the Humanities Center

Mike Williams: Good morning! Traffic today is pretty light.

Brian Clack: I can see why Rush Limbaugh does this for a living.

Mike Williams: Oh my gosh. So cool.

Brian Clack: One of the questions that we asked to reflect upon: why are our offices next to each other, other than having to keep an eye on each other?

Mike Williams: Yeah, exactly.

Brian Clack: I'm Brian Clark, Director of the Humanities Center.

Mike Williams: And I'm Mike Williams, Director of the Changemaker Hub. I happened to be Director of the Hub at this moment and you're the director of the Humanities Center, and we're friends and that relationship, I think, helps it make sense.

Brian Clack: There are interpersonal and in the broadest sense, philosophical reasons why our offices are there. I mean, we had many, many conversations in the, in the run up to the founding of the Humanities Center, and how we could work together. And I think we want to work together more than we have done up to this point. There's so much going on in both of our centers that we're now, I think, in a position where we can move toward closer collaboration. But one could say that the exemplary work of the Hub is towards action and actions that produce positive impact locally, nationally, internationally. And the work of the Humanities Center may seem, at least on the face of it, to have less of an action-oriented role and more about a thinking, contemplative role. But these things, that would be too churlish to stress that point. Any effective change in the world requires reflection and understanding and particularly reflection and understanding about the nature of the world and society and human beings. So in a way you could think of this as preliminary work to the work of changemaking. But that, again, may be too schematic.

Mike Williams: I think you're right. At the hub, we have a bias towards action. I think the way we're conceiving of action is getting broader and broader. Action can be engaged research. Action can be a podcast; it can be storytelling. Like you just said, it's thinking about different perspectives and understanding. And then what you choose to do with that understanding, that's completely up to you. That's not for every student or every faculty member.

Brian Clack: Yeah, I'm struck by, and I like this description of you and your work, and the Hub in general as having, as you put it, a bias towards action. And I think we could probably stress the Humanities Center's work in terms of a contrasting, though complimentary bias, which is a bias towards thoughts. I think the emphasis in all of this is on the complimentarity of our particular units and the work that we're doing. The interesting things in life come not, I think, when people of the same mindset come together, then you just produce a strange sort of rigid party. What comes is when people with different outlooks rub up against each other. That's where the interesting work is done. And that's where the promise of interesting work between the Hub and the Humanities Center, it lies in that brushing up against the differences that we have.