Society problems

Changing the Human Experience grants explore society’s toughest problems

When the Changing the Human Experience (CHE) initiative was born as part of the long-term vision, it aimed to foster research in the humanities and social sciences that explores our changing world, including our bodies, minds, our changing globe and political structures. No one knew how much the world would change by the time CHE funded its first grants.

Anna Grzymala-Busse and Gavin Jones co-direct the Changing Human Experience initiative, which recently funded its initial grants to eight research projects in the humanities and social sciences. (Image credit: Andrew Brodhead)

“Everyone is scrambling to make sense of something that’s unfolding as we speak,” said Gavin Jones, an English teacher and CHE co-director with political science professor Anna Grzymala-Busse. Although applications were received before COVID-19 hit, Jones said the eight projects that recently received funding will investigate matters of pressing public interest.

“We call them mean problems,” said Jones, who is also the Rehmus family professor of humanities. “These are issues that, due to their complexity and persistence, require multidisciplinary and collaborative approaches to bring them to light.”

Funded projects bring together collaborative teams from schools of humanities and sciences, education, and law and many include roles for undergraduate and graduate students in addition to faculty and teaching assistants of research. Projects address a variety of changes in human experience, events of the past, conditions of the present, or promises of the future, and focus on areas of contemporary public interest which, according to Grzymala-Busse and Jones, could engage a wide audience beyond the University.

“On issues such as the fight against climate change, the preservation of human dignity as we age, or the history and future of democracy, you need to do research to understand the problems before you can solve them. “said Grzymala-Busse, who is also Kevin and Michelle Douglas. Professor of international studies.

Calling for nominations, Grzymala-Busse and Jones wrote, “Understanding the past and understanding each other has never been more urgent as we grapple with the risks and opportunities of the future” – an urgency that has only increase as society faces unprecedented changes in the human experience. caused by COVID-19.

Funded projects: