Burkhardt Fellows Celebrate Program's Tenth Anniversary
On Saturday, May 7, the last day of the 2011 ACLS Annual Meeting, 44 Burkhardt Fellows gathered to celebrate the tenth anniversary of the Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowships for Recently Tenured Scholars.
Burkhardt Fellows from across the program’s first decade came together to recognize one another’s accomplishments and to listen to and discuss each other’s presentations on pressing topics. In four panel discussions, fellows reflected on how their scholarly perspectives have changed over the course of their careers, the challenges and opportunities found in research and teaching, and how to describe the humanities research to colleagues in the academy as well as the public at large.
While the fellows addressed a range of questions regarding their scholarly and professional objectives, common themes and concerns surfaced, including the impact of the recession on university budgets, the urgency of communicating the importance of humanistic scholarship to various audiences, and how humanists might take on the role of public intellectuals. Many of the fellows were eager to partner with scientists, while others encouraged work with elementary and secondary school students. Richard Will F’08 suggested that it should not be difficult to justify humanities research. “In my experience, most people like to learn about culture,” he said, adding that “the value of our work lies in explaining . . . how people communicate with one another.”
The fellowships are named for Frederick H. Burkhardt, ACLS president from 1957-1974, who rescued ACLS from near bankruptcy at the start of his tenure and laid a solid foundation for the organization's future. Frederick Burkhardt’s decades of work after retiring from ACLS on The Correspondence of Charles Darwin exemplify dedication to a demanding and ambitious scholarly enterprise. Accordingly, the Burkhardt fellowships support long-term, unusually ambitious projects in the humanities and related social sciences.
ACLS President Pauline Yu commented, “Those of us who were fortunate to know Fred Burkhardt benefitted from his leadership and vision. It seems fitting that we continue his legacy not only with the fellowships awarded every year in his name, but by also being able to connect such ambitious scholars with each other. We all stand to benefit from their discussions and collective energy.”
About Frederick H. Burkhardt
Aaron James F'08
2011 ACLS Annual Meeting