Graduate Certificate

The Graduate Certificate Program in Public Humanities offers a unique opportunity to currently enrolled PhD students interested in public engagement and the work of non-profit cultural organizations.  The specialization in public humanities will provide the course work and work experience to PhD students whose scholarship has a public face and to those who are interested in teaching in Public History, Public Anthropology, Digital Humanities, Public Sociology, Public Archaeology, Museum Studies, and/or Museum Education programs. Our MA graduates have found work in museums, historical societies, cultural planning agencies, heritage tourism, historic preservation, foundations, and community art programs.

Public Humanities can be categorized into four themes and four methods.  Students in the certificate program will have an in-depth and hands-on understanding of these eight vectors, but may choose to specialize, through practicum, in several cross-cutting themes and methods.

Public Humanities Themes

Public Humanities Methods

  • Memory/Stories/Histories
  • Communities/Publics/Access
  • Identities
  • Objects/Performance/Visual Culture
  • Museum: Collecting/Exhibiting/Educating
  • Oral History/Ethnography/Storytelling
  • Heritage/Preservation/Place-Making
  • Digital Public Humanities

Program Requirements

The certificate program requires four courses: two introductory courses, one practicum course, and one elective. All courses must be completed with grade B or above.

At least one of the required introductory courses (Introduction to Public Humanities or Methods in Public Humanities) must be taken before the other courses so students understand the theory and method of public humanities before moving on to electives or the practicum.

1. AMST2650: Introduction to Public Humanitiesaddresses the theoretical bases of the public humanities; history and memory, museums and memorials, the roles of expertise and experience, community cultural development, and material culture.

2.  AMST2540: Methods in Public Humanities: surveys public humanities work, including cultural heritage preservation and interpretation, museum collecting and exhibition, informal education, and provides an overview of work in nonprofit organizations, including governance, management, and development.

3.  One Elective chosen from AMST graduate level courses in Public Humanities or, with permission, a Public Humanities course offered as upper level AMST seminar or a graduate course at RISD.  Most elective courses are offered every other year. Students seeking the certificate would take either AMST2540 or AMST2650 before taking electives. See a list of current Public Humanities courses here.

4.  AMST2680: Practicum in Public Humanities: provides hands-on training essential for work with museums, historic preservation, and cultural agencies or for teaching public humanities. Faculty and staff help find placements and negotiate a specific project.  Students participate either in the summer blog or semester class meetings.

We assume that adding four courses to a PhD program would not slow progress to the degree.  And, for students in departments that permit students to take courses in other programs, Public Humanities courses (now given under an AMST designation) may fulfill PhD requirements and Public Humanities certificate requirements simultaneously.


Please apply to the Public Humanities Graduate Certificate Program using UFunds.*  To access the application, log in to UFunds.  After log in, please select Doctoral Certificates, and then select Public Humanities.

The applicant’s home department DGS approval is required. 

Please note that the program is open only to PhD students currently enrolled at Brown University. American Studies PhD students are not eligible for the certificate program because they have a similar program (for an MA in Public Humanities) already in place.

For more information, please contact Professor Steve Lubar.