Indiana Humanities is a statewide nonprofit that infuses the humanities into our daily lives. They do this by providing grants, convening discussions, uplifting humanities scholars, spotlighting humanities organizations and activities, and creating their own programs that help Hoosiers think, read, and talk.
Humans are innately curious creatures. We wonder about the world around us. We ponder the nature of our existence and, most importantly, we consider how to make the world a better place. Fortunately for us Hoosiers, Indiana is home to an inspiring organization that brings people together to reflect on these topics — a nonprofit called Indiana Humanities.
Established in 1972, Indiana Humanities was first known as the Indiana Committee for the Humanities. At the time, the National Endowment for the Humanities had encouraged the people of Indiana to form a dedicated grantmaking organization. So, five energetic Hoosiers came together to secure more federal dollars for local programs.
This initial committee was composed of: Dr. Marvin E. Hartig, Mrs. Edmund F. (Virginia) Ball, Dr. Robert E. Burns, Mr. Edward N. Howard and Dr. Robert W. Richey. Since then, Indiana Humanities has awarded numerous grants, created public programming and been part of many special projects around the state.
“Since our founding 50 years ago, we’ve facilitated a breadth of programs, including exhibits, festivals, lectures, seminars and workshops,” said Keira Amstutz, Indiana Humanities president and CEO. “Through our work we’ve been able to connect Hoosiers, open minds and enrich lives through the humanities.”
Indiana Humanities encourages Hoosiers to think, read and talk about important topics. This work is crucial for a flourishing quality of life, but it also fosters conversations around topics like culture and international affairs. That’s why Indiana Humanities often partners with The International Center and their vision of a more global Indiana.
“We’re committed to helping shape an Indiana that includes everyone. During the 1990s, we were part of a decade-long effort to promote public awareness of Indiana’s ties to the rest of the world and to raise the level of public discussion about international issues,” said Amstutz. “Inclusivity remains one of our core values and can be seen through our contemporary grantmaking as we continue to provide grants to diverse groups that reflect and celebrate the cultural richness of Indiana.”
Their programs support a vision of Indiana where the humanities belong to everyone, and their work is driven by their values of inclusivity, curiosity, community, creativity and partnerships. !
In recent years, they launched the Campfires program, a program that pairs nature and literature to spark conversations about Indiana’s future. Their Novel Conversations initiative provides a free, statewide lending library, while INconversations engage an intimate group in insightful conversations with some of the nation’s most intriguing thought-leaders. Currently, they are supporting community-led film screenings of Arab Indianapolis: A Hidden History, with discussion guides for local schools, community organizations, libraries and other nonprofits.
Altogether, these programs help Hoosiers tackle difficult questions, understand varied perspectives, and connect across divides. For half a century, Indiana Humanities has sought to serve the community as a trusted partner and convener, while providing context to a world that continues to baffle and delight. And best of all, they make it fun “because life is too short” not to!