Over the years, the Humanities Institute has supported a number of programs designed to strengthen the University's intellectual and social ties with the Austin community. (Photo: Living Newspaper, César Chávez Performance)
The K-12 Educational Outreach Consortium formed a collective of organizations and individuals who worked at The University of Texas at Austin and furnished resources to the K-12 community. In so doing the Consortium provided a space to (1) connect and share resources, (2) promote events and professional development opportunities, (3) build a community of like-minded citizen-scholars, (4) increase awareness about its efforts, and (5) identify opportunities to partner.
The Living Newspaper Project sought to reinvigorate civic education in Austin-area secondary schools through the dramatization of current human rights issues. It involved a robust collaboration between the Humanities Institute, the Bernard and Audre Rapoport Center for Human Rights and Justice of UT’s School of Law, the Performance as Public Practice Program of UT's Department of Theatre and Dance, and Theatre Action Project. By combining research on current events, critical and creative writing, and public performance, Living Newspapers allowed students to gain important skills and a greater ability to understand and affect the world around them.
The Research Associate Program facilitated independent research by Central Texas citizens whose personal research projects require access to University resources. Research Associates received access to University of Texas library materials and databases as well as invitations to regular gatherings of fellow Associates, Community Sabbatical participants, and UT faculty.
In 2002, the Humanities Institute, in partnership with the Mayor's Office and the Austin Public Library, founded the Mayor's Book Club as a means of bringing readers together from throughout the community to read and publicly discuss a common book. Humanities Institute faculty and staff, in addition to several noted Austin citizens, led these conversations at branch libraries across the city as part of a month-long series of events, including discussion panels, films, and exhibitions addressing the themes and issues explored in the selected book.
Writing Austin's Lives served as a life-writing and community discovery project on the experiences, perspectives, and family histories of ordinary Austinites. In the spring of 2003, the Humanities Institute put out the call for residents to share their stories about life in Central Texas. Out of the over 800 short personal narratives submitted in English and Spanish came a play, numerous public readings, and an acclaimed book, Writing Austin's Lives: A Community Portrait.
As part of a nationwide initiative of the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation to energize and validate K-12 teachers as intellectuals and keep them connected to cutting edge scholarship in the humanities and sciences, the Humanities Institute established the Texas Teachers As Scholars program (TAS) in 2001. The Institute founded the program on the principle that the most important factor in quality education for students at all levels is a confident, energized, knowledgeable, and creative classroom teacher. In the years to follow, Texas Teachers as Scholars grew to become one of the most prominent such teacher development programs in the country.