Who We Are

Our Mission

Our mission is to champion the humanities as a means to spark civic engagement, build community, educate, inspire, and make long-lasting change.

Our Vision

We imagine a future where all Pennsylvania residents have access without barriers to the humanities and understand the tools to lead change in their communities.

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These values make up the foundation of our work at PA Humanities. No matter where you find us, these three points will be driving everything we do.

People First

  • Ensuring the stories, values, assets, and perspectives of each community we serve lead the outcome of our programs
  • Creating spaces where everybody belongs and can find common ground, speak their truth, and work together for collective action
  • Designing programs that belong to local communities and have long-term sustainability

Innovating & Growing

  • Always seeking new and better ways to serve the people of Pennsylvania
  • Redefining the humanities as accessible and useful to everyone
  • Ambitious in our approach and confident in the potential of our state

Sharing Tools, Building Networks

  • Demonstrating how the humanities can spark understanding and action through our practical education and research
  • Building our toolkit and state network with people and organizations who share common values
  • Lead as a national model for how to motivate people to make a difference in their communities with the humanities

Our History

PA Humanities has grown and changed significantly in its nearly 50-year history. We were officially launched at Bucknell University in 1973, after a 1972 NEH planning grant to The Public Committee for the Humanities in Pennsylvania (HIP), which included a broad cross section of representatives from 18 citizenry groups and institutions . We finally settled in Philadelphia in 1980 with the name Pennsylvania Humanities Council (PHC). State humanities councils are the independent nonprofit partners of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and were created with two goals in mind: (1) advancing knowledge and understanding of the humanities and (2) increasing public awareness of, access to, and support for the humanities in the US.

National Endowment for the Humanities

In our early years, activity consisted almost exclusively of making grants to nonprofit organizations with funds provided by the NEH. We began to focus on expanding access to the humanities in Pennsylvania beyond groups traditionally interested in cultural events. We sought to empower local groups that were working to build the programming capacity of small historical societies, museums, art centers, libraries, senior centers, and community groups.

As our work progressed, we decided in 2013 to re-envision our future by focusing strategically on areas of need in Pennsylvania where the humanities can have the greatest impact: community building and education. Since our shift in strategy, we reflected on how far we’ve come as an organization and, in 2021, decided to rebrand as PA Humanities to better reflect the work we do. As we move into the future, we are always finding new ways to put the humanities in action to create positive change with people and communities across the Commonwealth.

We invite you to think, engage,  and grow with us!

What the Humanities Mean

With the power of the humanities, we come to understand and connect through the sharing of human experiences.
Storytelling, historical perspectives, personal interpretation, creativity, and deliberative conversations are the tools that the humanities provide everyday people. Equipped with these resources, communities can document their own culture and move forward in shaping their homes. The results are transformative insights into ourselves and our world, inspiring us to work together for a more equitable society. Dialogue leads to community building, which drives us to collective action.

Building Connections

Making Spaces For New Voices

Creating Empathy &
a Sense of Belonging

Supporting Vibrant Local Communities

Fostering Resiliency & Healing

Developing Leadership Skills

Improving Critical Thinking

Championing Equity

Building Connections

Spaces For
New Voices

Creating Empathy & a Sense of Belonging

Supporting Vibrant Local Communities

Fostering Resiliency & Healing

Developing Leadership

Improving Critical Thinking

Championing Equity

Meet Our Team

We are a team of experienced and talented advocates for the humanities. Our staff is passionate about putting the people of Pennsylvania first through transformational programs and initiatives.

Board of Directors

PA Humanities’ board is a committed and diverse team of professionals working to put the humanities into action to create positive change across Pennsylvania.

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