Community partnerships are crucial to the work of the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage.  These partnerships – with arts, cultural, and historical organizations throughout the state, region, and even the world – inform the Center’s public projects and research and its practice-based pedagogy.

These partnerships develop through our common engagement with the challenge of doing public intellectual and artistic work.  They enrich and advance our work, providing a space for sharing knowledge and for thinking together through questions, such as the connection between the public humanities and social justice, the use of digital technologies to tell new stories and reach new audiences, or the potential for public programs about the arts, culture and history to create new relationships.  Each partnership is unique, but all are intended to be reciprocal and synergistic, generating innovative practice and research that benefit both of us.

Our Community Partners

American Dance Legacy Initiative
Coggeshall Farm Museum
Everett Dance Theater
Little Compton Historical Society
New Urban Arts
Providence Department of Arts, Culture and Tourism
Providence Preservation Society
Rhode Island Council for the Humanities
Rhode Island Historical Society
Rhode Island Latino Arts
RISD Museum
The Center for Reconciliation
Tiverton Public Library
Tomaquag Museum
UPP Arts


Our Common Work

The Center for Public Humanities generates research and programming in the humanities addressing important issues.  As part of both the wider scholarly community at Brown and also the cultural and intellectual life of the city, state and region, the Center joins two spheres that often remain separate, creating a space for shared analysis, reflection and innovation in the public humanities.  The public work that we and our community partners do together includes: 

  • Convening conferences, workshops or lectures
  • Collaborating on research projects, including publications and exhibitions
  • Providing practical support, such as meeting, venue, or exhibition space
  • Serving as a sounding board for ideas in development
  • Connecting each other with arts, cultural and historical professionals or organizations that may be valuable in advancing specific projects.

We send out an e-newsletter about on-campus events that may be of interest (many not advertised outside of Brown); invite our partners to events held at the Center, including our lunch-time speaker series; and host get-togethers which provide a chance for all of us to reconnect.

Our Coursework and Pedagogy

The Center for Public Humanities is the leading graduate program in public humanities, offering a terminal MA and an MA available to doctoral students in Brown’s PhD program in American Studies.  We plan to add soon an undergraduate major and a certificate program for PhD students in other departments.  Community partners enter into the teaching function of the Center, and benefit, in several ways:

  • Required practicums (unpaid internships) provide summer- or semester-long student help to tackle special projects or support ongoing programs. 
  • Faculty often seek help conceiving discrete, short-term projects – combining research, interpretation and public engagement – for credit within a particular course.
  • Public Humanities students may earn course credit for a project designed and implemented through collaboration with one of our partners.
  • We invite partners to listen and comment on student work throughout the semester, providing students with practical advice and partners with new ideas.

Partners benefit from learning of current arts and humanities concerns, theories and best practices from interactions with students and lectures and partners provide students with real life applications of research and class learning.

We are always eager to hear about other ways in which community partners can work with Public Humanities students and faculty on projects that incubate new knowledge and practices in the public humanities.

If we don’t know about your organization yet, we would love to get to know you.   Come see us and share with us the work that your organization does to engage the public with art, history and culture, and let’s talk about ways that we might work together in the future.


Marisa Angell Brown, Assistant Director of Programs, Center for Public Humanities