Every grant, every lecture, every play, every film, literally every event we fund in any way, must have a practicing humanist involved to ensure that the humanities are used as a vehicle to explore the subject under evaluation. As our state’s affiliate of the NEH and humanities council, our job is to demonstrate the importance of the humanities. To do that we need practicing humanists. That’s not just professors or teachers—although they are the very core of the service we offer the state—it’s also tribal elders, authors, playwrights, independent researchers, and community experts.

From left, Shannon D. Smith and Bobbie Berleffi, and Beverley Kopf of TVGALS at Devils Tower, WY.

Since we were founded, Wyoming Humanities has been charged with promoting and protecting the humanities professions. We seek to ensure that experts in the humanities have opportunities to utilize their expertise to benefit the public good. For years, there has been a great concern that humanities and liberal arts are being pushed to the background in higher education and that there is little hope for students who graduate from college with a humanities or liberal arts degree. Not only to we work to correct the erroneous assumption that a degree in the humanities is limiting, state humanities councils ensure that there is market for experts in the humanities by employing them and ensuring that every project we are involved in uses a professional humanist.

We’re also the hub to provide links between people who need a humanist to help them with a project and the experts who work in this industry. We’ve learned that when organizations and communities choose topics and projects important to them, they have ‘skin in the game’ and that makes programs more successful. Wyoming Humanities recently completed a year of strategic planning resulting in a renewed commitment to providing support and guidance directly to communities for programs and subjects they have identified as especially relevant to them. We will be matchmakers to provide a list of speakers/subjects and available funding to community organizers who want to host an event. Soon, new information about these grant-based programming options will be added to the website. A key step in this process is to include an updated scholars list on the website to ensure individuals and organizations can find scholars in the humanities subjects that will support their desired programming. We’ll be sending out a call for scholars who want to be included in the list, either as potential presenters with specific programs, or as scholars available for inclusion on grant programs early next year. 

All this is to say we are beyond grateful to the humanists in Wyoming who help us put on incredible events and enable impactful and thoughtful programs. The humanities help us explore every possible angle of the human experience and our scholars and humanities practitioners are the tool to help Wyoming take a closer look at life.

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