About the New Jersey Council for the Humanities

At the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, we harness the power of the humanities to strengthen our pluralistic society.

Our vision is a New Jersey that delights in diversity, appreciates that there are no easy answers, and finds joy and understanding in the humanities.

How do we do this? By enabling public programs and humanities experiences that deepen our understanding of ourselves and our world. NJCH is a grantmaker, program provider, partner, convener, and innovator. We work with statewide and community organizations to bring dynamic programming to the local level.

Our History and Future

NJCH started its work in 1972 when a small group of citizens established the organization as an independent nonprofit and state partner of the National Endowment for the Humanities. These pioneers of the public humanities included Clara Allen, Frederic Fralick, Renee Kogel, Richard McCormick, Stanley Menking, Bernard Peltz, Hamilton Stillwell, and Paul Ylvisaker. Following NEH’s directive that the humanities be placed in the service of democracy, the new organization funded programs that brought humanities perspectives to bear on contemporary public policy issues.

In the decades that followed, NJCH expanded its work to embrace a variety of themes and formats—a media lending library, a South Jersey history Chautauqua, community conversations on justice, teacher institutes, “Meet Your Neighbor” programs exploring cultural diversity—these were some of the many projects, all responding to specific needs and challenges.

Today, we build on NJCH’s legacy of outreach and engagement and deepen our commitment to expanding humanities audiences. To learn more about our new directions, please see our 2016-2021 strategic plan.

What are the Public Humanities?

We often encounter the humanities as part of our formal education. They include familiar disciplines such as history, literature, and philosophy, as well as those less common (jurisprudence, we’re thinking of you!). The public humanities takes these subjects out of the classroom and recasts them as essential tools in the shared exploration of our history, values, culture, and beliefs.

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