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About the Center

Mission and Philosophy

The Virginia Tech Center for Humanities, which has its administrative home in the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences, has a university-wide mandate. It addresses the urgent need for humanistic methods of discovery, learning, and engagement for a comprehensive, twenty-first century university that can prepare transformative graduates and sustain a dynamic faculty to shape a global society.

The mission of the center is to promote humanistic approaches to scholarship that privilege the study of human cultures and civilizations as well as human experience and that use scholarly methods that include comparative and speculative analytical paradigms. This human-centered approach is uniquely suited to addressing the difficult problems of defining, explaining, and interpreting causes and consequences of the human condition through rigorous scholarly engagement.

The center executes this mission by promoting traditional modes of humanistic research and by engaging creatively with major technological issues that are transforming the modern world. In this way, the center is promoting new growth in the strength of the human-centered scholarship while building on and benefiting from Virginia Tech’s existing distinction for exceling in technology.

The vision for the center is grounded in a capacious understanding of humanities. It promotes research in humanistic disciplines, broadly conceived to encompass the arts; human-centered social sciences; traditional humanities disciplines such as languages and literature, history, philosophy, and religious studies; and the varieties of scholarly work happening across the university tackling important dimensions of the human condition. By combining this focus with innovative engagement of modern technology, the center will encourage collaboration across multiple colleges. Through such means, the center will advance paradigms for research to structure transdisciplinary scholarship both within the College of Liberal Arts and Human Sciences and across the university to support Virginia Tech’s broader mission of comprehensive discovery, learning, and engagement.

As the university implements Beyond Boundaries to make Virginia Tech a truly comprehensive land-grant institution, this research center serves an especially pivotal role, complementing the robust emphasis on technology, engineering, and applied sciences to ensure a vibrant presence for humanistic scholarship.

The Center for Humanities is distinguished by its focus on developing new areas of influence for the humanities to take leadership by including significant engagement with modern technology. In fulfillment of this aim, this center is establishing a working group on the ethics and values related to technology. The initial focus will be on current issues of salient complexity such as artificial intelligence and human enhancement. The focus of this working group, however, will vary dynamically based on the shifting needs for humanistic leadership on differing subjects.

The center draws on a transdisciplinary range of experts from across the university and is partnering with external entities to promote inclusive and collaborative approaches to engaging with the most ethically challenging dimensions of technology. By addressing the humanistic concerns of technology through comprehensive strategies that include responding to existing issues and anticipating future quandaries, the Center for Humanities is reinforcing Virginia Tech’s role as a regional and national leader by influencing the ethical, equitable use of modern technology.