This month Virginia Tech will highlight the importance of the humanities and how it intertwines with technology during a week-long celebration.

The second Humanities Week will be held Feb. 20-24. Sylvester Johnson, director of the Center for Humanities at Virginia Tech, said the event is an opportunity to “elevate the tremendous importance of scholarship that Virginia Tech produces in humanistic, human-centered disciplines.”

“During a time when some stakeholders have publicly questioned or attacked the fundamental value of humanities education, we are also excited to include in this year's Humanities Week programming speakers who work in policy and technology and who have championed the essential role of humanities for leading our society to guide the future of democracy and technology,” Johnson said.

Humanities Week will include panel discussions with leading humanities experts, and faculty-led programs that delve into topics related to history, literature, dance, culinary practices, and more.

“The many forms of humanities are essential to knowledge, future talent, and the comprehensive mission of Virginia Tech,” Johnson said.

The highlight of the week will be Scott Hartley, a successful technology entrepreneur and Silicon Valley expert, who will join a panel discussion on Thursday and will talk with Virginia Tech President Tim Sands on Friday about leadership in the humanities.

Thursday's marquee panel,  “Humanities and the Future of Technology,” will include insight from Hartley and Rishi Jaitly, a distinguished fellow in Virginia Tech’s Center for Humanities. Laura Belmonte, dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, will moderate the conversation.

Sands and Hartley will gather the morning of Feb. 24 for a conversation in Haymarket Theater, moderated by Dawn Jefferies, senior producer for strategic initiatives at Virginia Tech.

“A Conversation with Robert Newman,” the president and director of the National Humanities Center, is among the week’s early highlights. Newman will speak on Feb. 21 about the role of the humanities in 21st century education.

On Feb. 22, Michael Slaby, who is an author and a major architect of digital media for communicating ideas in politics, will discuss the role of the humanities in securing the future of American democracy and the public sphere during his event, “Humanities and the Future of Politics."

Among the week’s highly-anticipated events will be the annual Giovanni-Steger Poetry Prize Ceremony on Feb. 21. The ceremony is established by renowned author and University Distinguished Professor Nikki Giovanni and named for the late Virginia Tech president Charles Steger. It honors the work of Virginia Tech’s student poets and will include poetry readings by the night’s winners. 

The week is sponsored by the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and all events are open to the public. Virtual viewing options will be available as well.

Visit the Humanities Week page to read about all of the events and to register.

Written by Kelsey Bartlett