Letter from the Director

January 20, 2023

Steven Lubar is the Interim Director of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities & Cultural Heritage, Director of the Brown University's Center for Digital Scholarship, and Professor of American Studies and History.


Centers and programs have histories.

The JNBC and the public humanities program can track its origins to 1979, when the John Nicholas Brown Center for the Study of American Civilization was established, or 1995, when it became part of Brown University, or 2007, when it was rebaptized with its present name to confirm a new focus on public, community-engaged scholarship.

And they have endings, too. The Center will change again, in July 2023. It will become a center for advanced study with the goal of communicating “the value of academic scholarship as such to the public at large.”

I am sad to see this change. So too, I know, are alumnae of the MA program, current students, and members of the many communities, local and around the world, with whom we have collaborated over the past two decades.

We shape our histories by making them and telling them.

We’ll continue to do good work this spring, sponsoring courses in the methods of public humanities and museum education, and engaging in our usual ambitious programs for students, scholars, and the public. We will work with local communities to suggest ways to keep the work of public humanities strong. Brown is committed to engaged scholarship, and we know we have much to offer to its ongoing efforts to find new places for public humanities in its scholarship and teaching.

And we’ll celebrate our successes. The JNBC will sponsor a reunion in May. We will gather reminiscences and archives to preserve the Center’s legacy. And most important, we will work to strengthen alumnae networks to support the ongoing work and careers of the more than two hundred alumnae of the program so that they can continue this important work.