About the IHR

The Institute for Humanities Research at the University of California, Santa Cruz is a laboratory for theorizing and implementing new visions of the Humanities via faculty research projects, graduate and undergraduate education, and public programs.

What are we doing when we do the Humanities and why?

These basic questions drive our work at the Institute for Humanities Research (IHR). The core subjects of the Humanities – ethics, history, language, identity, religion, and so on – are also the core elements of human experience, in general, even if we sometimes talk about these things differently in the university than we do in our home or in the public square.

The past year was an extraordinarily exciting time to do Humanities research and outreach at the University of California, Santa Cruz. The staff of the IHR worked closely with our faculty and students to develop a remarkable range of new projects and grants, public events, and university programs—all of them highlighting the crucial importance of the Humanities to understanding our world and its challenges.

Public Humanities

In many ways, the intellectual tone of our year was set by William “Bro” Adams, a PhD alumnus in History of Consciousness and the current Chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), in his IHR sponsored annual Sidhartha Maitra Memorial lecture “Wicked Problems: The Humanities in the Time of Stem.” Before an audience of hundreds, Dr. Adams passionately argued for the unique role that the Humanities can—and, even, must—play in addressing our thorniest contemporary questions and problems.

Community Collaborations

Among the year’s program highlights were our collaborations with two local cultural institutions, the Museum of Art and History and Kuumbwa Jazz Center, to bring a series of events focusing on African American history and the arts to the wider Santa Cruz community. We also continued our popular “Questions That Matter” series with a public dialogue at Kuumbwa Jazz Center: “Play: Games, Life, and Death,” which drew sold-out crowds.

Next Generation

In recognition of the dual need to expand the training of PhD students in the Humanities and help our graduates apply their unique skills to a wide range of professional opportunities, we launched a Public Fellows program that enabled Humanities doctoral students to participate in research, programming, communications, and fundraising at non-profit organizations, cultural institutions, and private companies. Together with Dean of Graduate Studies Tyrus Miller and the Humanities Dean Tyler Stovall the IHR also received a Next Generation Humanities PhD Planning Grant from the NEH to transform graduate education in the Humanities. As a result of the grant, UC-Santa Cruz now belongs to a nationwide consortium of twenty-eight universities working on these issues.

Research & Grants

Building on the more than $6 million in research grants that the IHR has helped to generate since 2008, we worked with our faculty over the past year to develop and steward successful grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Science Foundation, the Mellon Foundation, the Koret Foundation, and other sources.

The University of California is the finest public university system in the world. A crucial part of what makes us great—and what makes us different from so many universities around the globe—is the central role of the Humanities in our educational experience, not only in the curriculum but also in the vibrant intellectual life of our campuses. Here at UC Santa Cruz, we possess an especially rich tradition of innovation, creativity, and collaboration in the Humanities.

Please join us in celebrating this heritage and building on this foundation.


Established in 1999, the IHR has grown dramatically since its inception and now serves as an umbrella for a multitude of research centers, research clusters, and multi-campus research projects. With these and other initiatives, the IHR serves as an incubator for new ideas and provides crucial support to faculty and students at every stage of the research process.  One of our key functions is to identify promising graduate students and to help them become productive researchers through mentorship programs, fellowships, and internship opportunities. As the designated University of California, Santa Cruz Humanities Center, the IHR is part of the University of California systemwide Humanities Network and is able to leverage the human and intellectual resources of the finest public university system in the world.


UCSC Green Office Program logo

The IHR became a certified Green Office in 2014. Visit the Humanities Green Team page to learn more.

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