A Message from the Director
My time at the Tanner Humanities Center has been defined by a global pandemic, marked
by the nationwide protests demanding justice in the aftermath of the murder of George
Floyd, and characterized by a highly partisan and polarized political climate that
culminated in a deadly attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. More recently,
ready access to information and ideas has been at risk by book bans and curriculum
censorship in Utah and other states.
These unprecedented times have underscored the importance of deepening our capacity
to understand the human condition and appreciating our common humanity. It has been
an honor to lead the center through the upheaval and uncertainty of our present moment.
I recognize that the Tanner Humanities Center has a unique and important role to play.
Our work enables creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. We provide a space for
reflection and analysis.
The challenges of the past few years have profoundly impacted our personal and professional
lives—the implications of which we have yet to understand fully—these times tested
each of us in different ways. I was called to rise to the challenge of leading with
compassion and creativity. When the center closed in 2020 to protect the safety of
our staff and patrons, I was eager to find new ways for our community to experience
arts, culture, and the humanities. I did not want social distancing to become social
The Tanner Team found new ways to connect with the public through virtual Humanities@Home
programs. We held conversations with Shoshana Zuboff, Ruha Benjamin, and Safiya Noble
-- women conducting research on technology's cutting-edge role. By having conversations
about these and other advanced issues, the Tanner Center will continue to provide
a place for people passionate about ideas to imagine ways to move forward as a community
and a society.
I continue to marvel at humanity's resilience. The humanities enable us to understand
complexity and appreciate a range of ways of being in the world. I am excited for
all we can become.
Director, Tanner Humanities Center
University of Utah