THE ADVISOR’S ROLE
To: Humanities Advisors
From: Arizona Humanities
Re: Participating in AH-Funded Projects
Thank you for agreeing to serve as an advisor for a project that may be funded by Arizona Humanities (AH). This memo is to tell you about AH, and to discuss your possible role.
AH is a nonprofit organization that receives funding from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Through a competitive grant program and other programs, AH supports hundreds of projects around the state each year that encourage dialogue between humanities advisors, scholars or traditional teachers and the general public. Traditionally, AH provides funding to universities and colleges, museums, libraries, schools, community groups, and other educational and cultural organizations. You, the advisor in the humanities, are essential to this project. The centrality of the humanities is one of the most important criteria AH’s Board considers when deciding which projects to fund. Teachers and scholars, who embody the knowledge, methods, and values of their disciplines, are the chief means of bringing the humanities to the public. In this sense, you guarantee the humanities in the project.
As the humanities advisor, you should be involved in planning the project, and may be involved in its implementation. Some roles you may play and tasks you may be asked to undertake include:
Project Planning and Consulting: Advisors are often asked to serve on a planning committee, or in a consulting role. Help the group clarify the humanistic questions central to the project. Groups often have trouble identifying the disciplines most relevant to the project. You can assist by suggesting disciplines or by raising values-related questions that can be approached from different humanities perspectives. You may also be able to assist by identifying other advisors who might be helpful to the project. AH maintains a database of humanities advisors, which may be of assistance to you as well.
Speaker, Panelist, Exhibit Consultant, Writer, Editor: In general, keep the following in mind:
Understand the total program. What does the project director regard as the focus? What roles does he or she see for your discipline? Let the project director know what contributions you can or cannot make. Consult with other advisors involved in the project.
Consider the humanities perspective. Use your discipline to help others understand the topic. You’re not expected to solve the problem, but to stimulate thinking, identify and challenge assumptions, and point to the values-related questions.
In whatever role you have, be prepared to provide context, assist interpretation, and allow for the expression of varying points of view.
Remember your audience. Many AH programs will consist primarily of those who have voluntarily come to the program and are interested in the ideas related to the topic. They may not be interested in the discipline itself or know the intellectual terminology. A conversational approach is usually better than a formal lecture.
Leading a Discussion
AH encourages discussion after most presentations. Here are a few reminders:
Begin with a question, and help all to participate.
Be an active listener. Guide the discussion, but don’t control it.
Don’t give answers, but lead the audience to possible solutions and discoveries. Bring out all sides of the question. Encourage critical thinking.
Keep the discussion moving, and keep it on track. Remember to keep the humanities central.
We appreciate your participation in this project!
If you’d like more information about AH, contact us at:
1242 North Central Avenue
Phoenix, AZ 85004