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Experimental Humanities


 The last twenty years have radically changed the face of higher education. On the one hand, digital technology and improved transportation have enabled more scholars to learn more and to produce more knowledge than ever before. This makes sense: increased access to knowledge creates more opportunities for more people to become scholars. On the other hand, increased interest in education has led to standardization and to lowered standards as institutions are invested in student retention—sometimes at the cost of learning. The net effect of this is the marginalization of exploratory and experimental forms of the humanities, whose use or relevance in a technological world seems limited. This situation is echoed throughout the cultural world, as an increasing number of those who pursue arts, trades, crafts, and religions find themselves without an institutional home.

In addition to providing concrete classes, the Center for Humanist Inquiries is meant to facilitate the sort of wide-ranging, creative production of knowledge that typified the early academic system—when natural philosophers were both alchemists and physicists. CHI is a space for scholars and creators to meet, interact, and collaborate. Rather than looking at knowledge as a solitary pursuit based in individual competition for ownership of an idea, CHI fosters an environment in which scholars can engage in fruitful, collaborative, creative conversations.

Scholar, here, refers to its etymological roots: student. Poets, welders, yogis, herbalists, therapists, physicists, philosophers, and mystics can all claim title to scholar—especially if they approach their field as a question rather than a space to derive certainty or answers.

The experimental humanities expands on the precepts and practices of radical theology: it takes knowledge cultivation out of the ivory tower and into the real world, demanding that scholars empower those who have been marginalized or dominated by ideological factors. It does so, in part, by dismantling the artificial structures that belittle certain forms of art and inquiry. Beyond seeking for a community of scholars beyond traditional confines, the experimental humanities also explores possibilities for fusing traditional academic skills, training, and resources with traditional forms of wisdom and deeper kinds of knowing.

If you are interested, please email humanistinquiries@gmail.com and ask to be placed on our email list. We will let you know when we announce our first official venture and will announce when we have meetings in the meantime.