We put participatory research at the forefront of all our work and partner with scholars, consultants, and a cross-sector of leaders including University of Pennsylvania’s PennPraxis, Elizabeth Myrick + Associates, and Allegheny Intermediate Unit.
With the help of Drexel University, we’re on a mission to map, network, and celebrate the wonderfully rich humanities landscape. Across the state people are building community, making space for new voices, sharing stories, uplifting culture, educating, solving problems creatively — what we call the tools of the humanities. This project seeks to learn more about this broader cultural sector and build a more inclusive and connected community for sharing, learning, and advocacy.
In 2019, we partnered with PennPraxis, the center for applied research and practice at the University of Pennsylvania Stuart Weitzman School of Design, to examine how the humanities are contributing to civic engagement, creative placemaking, and community development across the nation. Together we explored PA Humanities’ work alongside other organizations, funders, and practitioners pursuing similar initiatives across the country. The research revealed synergies between the humanities and the broader work of community development, with exciting possibilities for future collaborations between the fields. The research also highlights the recovery and growth work employed to take action for their communities during 2020, offering further examples of how the humanities can be a force for equitable social change.
In mid-2022, PA Humanities and its partners conducted the Pennsylvania Cultural Recovery & Regrowth Survey exploring COVID-19’s impact on the cultural sector and how organizations are supporting recovery and growth. 222 organizations from communities of all sizes across the state participated.
In February 2019, we launched a learning project in collaboration with researchers at Elizabeth Myrick + Associates seeking greater clarity about the direct experiences of PA Heart & Soul participants at our three pilot locations: Greater Carlisle, Meadville, and Williamsport. We wanted to discover how connecting residents to each other through stories, ideas, and experiences changed lives and transformed communities, as well as how participants were championing and redefining the role of the humanities in our communities. The research revealed a series of field-relevant themes and lessons for practitioners and funders looking to put the humanities into action.
In this learning brief, youth specialist Dr. Valerie Adams-Bass shares a decade of field-relevant insights, research, and findings about youth development from Teen Reading Lounge (TRL), our award-winning, interactive reading and discussion program. The brief draws on ten years of data collected by the Allegheny Intermediate Unit from both the teen participants and the adult TRL facilitators. In addition to providing valuable insights into PA Humanities’ successes and challenges, this research sheds light on how to better center diversity, equity, and inclusion in all youth programming. The findings support the humanities as a viable means for effectively and equitably engaging youth in programs that build important educational and social-emotional skills. how participants were championing and redefining the role of the humanities in our communities. The research revealed a series of field-relevant themes and lessons for practitioners and funders looking to put the humanities into action.