New Humanities Center Kicks-Off with Renowned Philosopher

Kwame Anthony AppiahAdvancing the humanities and their central role in education and our culture is the primary goal of the University of Tennessee’s new humanities center.

A public celebration is planned to formally open the center at 3:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, at the McClung Museum in Circle Park. The event will feature Princeton University philosophy professor Kwame Anthony Appiah, who will present “The Life of Honor.” A public reception will follow in the museum. The event is free and open to the public.

Appiah is a renowned philosopher, cultural theorist and novelist. He was born in London, England but raised in Ghana and focuses on political and moral theory, the philosophy of language and mind and African intellectual history. He earned a doctorate from Cambridge University and is currently the Laurance S. Rockefeller University Professor of Philosophy at Princeton University.

Formed by the College of Arts and Sciences last spring, the University of Tennessee Humanities Center aims to deepen and enrich research in the subjects like philosophy, history, languages, art, music, law, and linguistics, among other humanities subjects. The center now has four faculty and four graduate student fellows. Their work aims to explore the human endeavor and preserve our cultural heritage.

“The humanities, like the food which nourishes our bodies, sustain and deepen our understanding of our place in this complex universe,” said Thomas Heffernan, the Kenneth Curry Professor in the Humanities and director of the center. “The humanities are central to our development as sentient human beings. Can anyone imagine Jefferson penning the American Declaration of Independence without his deep and continuous life-long study of the humanities or the Abrahamic religions without the millennial-long study of the sacred scriptures manuscripts?”

The center is part of the broader university goal of becoming a Top 25 public research university. Humanities disciplines are core requirements in UT’s curriculum and are central to any well-rounded education by developing critical thinking, creativity, and intellectual curiosity, along with an understanding, appreciation, and civic responsibility for our culture, he added.

Event visitor parking is available at the Circle Park. A two-hour parking permit may be obtained at the Campus Information Center in front of Circle Park Drive.

The University of Tennessee Humanities Center is grateful for support from the Haines Morris Endowment, Ready for the World, and the College of Arts and Sciences.

Appiah is the author of several books including The Ethics of Identity, Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in a World of Strangers, Experiment in Ethics, and The Honor Code: How Moral Revolutions Happen. He has also written three novels and reviews regularly for the New York Review of Books. He is past-president of the PEN American Center, the world’s oldest international literary and human rights organization, and the American Philosophical Association. In 2010, Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the top 100 global thinkers and in 2012, President Obama presented him with a National Humanities Medal.

For more information about the center, visit the website.

C O N T A C T :

Whitney Heins (865-974-5460, wheins@utk.edu)

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