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The Tanner Humanities Center advances humanities exploration and engagement through public outreach, academic research and educational enrichment. Our activities reflect a vision of the humanities as not only relevant, stimulating, and cutting-edge, but also essential for developing critical thinking, tolerance, and respect on campus and in the community.

About The Center

Since 1988, the Tanner Humanities Center has served as an epicenter of humanities research, outreach, engagement, and education and has played a crucial role in bringing our campus and community together to analyze, understand, and enrich the human condition. The center has established a record of excellence and impact in its three core program areas:

Academic Research

We host a cohort of 10-12 internal and external faculty and graduate student research fellows yearly in the center’s fellowship suite. Selected competitively by our Faculty Advisory Board, our research fellows pursue innovative, interdisciplinary projects that often shape their respective humanities fields, inform public conversations, and result in publications and awards.  Our fellows share their research in writing groups, center workshops, and public work-in-progress talks. We also support interdisciplinary Research Interest Groups that facilitate exchanges between humanities scholars, students, and community experts.

Public Outreach

Our free public outreach programs provide campus and community members access to publicly engaged humanists – including visiting artists, writers, humanities scholars, public figures, and world leaders – to inspire and shape community dialogue about the human condition. We host multiple free public outreach events annually to audiences ranging from 250-2,000: our Tanner Lecture on Human Values, Tanner Talks, and an Author Meets Reader series. We host a Gardner Lecture in the Humanities and Fine Arts every other year. We also offer companion activities with our visiting speakers such as panels that highlight faculty from the College of Humanities, workshops with U students or book discussions with local elementary or secondary students, film screenings and discussions, and receptions with campus and community members. Our National Theatre Live program screens productions of classic and contemporary plays by London’s acclaimed National Theatre to a broad public audience at Broadway Centre Cinemas in partnership with the Salt Lake Film Society. We host faculty panels for select screenings and offer free tickets for secondary students and teachers and discounted tickets for college students, veterans, and seniors.

Educational Enrichment

Our Gateway Workshops offer Utah teachers rigorous and affordable professional development and continuing education courses in the humanities. Led by humanities faculty and offered every summer in an intensive format, our workshops explore current scholarship on academic subjects, new pedagogical methods, curriculum development, and innovative classroom technologies. This program serves over 100 teachers and impacts countless Utah students annually. Our Professors Off Campus program supports U faculty members who work on-site on a research, pedagogical, or creative project in collaboration with a community organization.  


The Obert C. and Grace A. Tanner Humanities Center was founded in 1988 as the Utah Humanities Center in the College of Humanities at the University of Utah. In 1995, it was endowed through a generous gift from the family foundation of Obert C. Tanner, renowned entrepreneur, philanthropist, and Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, and renamed for Obert and his wife Grace. In Fall 2008, the center moved from Carlson Hall to the newly constructed Carolyn Tanner Irish Humanities Building. This move enabled the center to house administrative and fellowship offices in one area, offer convenient and professional meeting and conference spaces, and cultivate close relationships with the College of Humanities and other schools, colleges, centers, departments, and programs with its central campus location. The center's directors and staff members have worked diligently over the years to support innovative interdisciplinary research, amplify diverse voices and perspectives, bring campus and community members together for shared humanities experiences, reach new audiences, diversify funding sources, and elevate the center's profile in Utah, the country, and the world.  

Tanner Humanities Center Directors have included co-Directors Larry Gerlach and Robert Caserio and Administrative Director Cynthia Buckingham (1988), Patricia Hanna (1989-1991), Lowell Durham (1991-1997), co-directors Peter Appleby and Holly Campbell (interim, 1997-1999), Gene Fitzgerald (1999-2003), Vincent Cheng (2003-2006), Bob Goldberg (2006-2019), Erika George (2019-present), Jeremy Rosen (acting, Fall 2022).

Last Updated: 1/4/23