Our Partnerships, Our Projects


The Graduate Humanities Program was first established in 1979 with a $200,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Then and now, we take the idea of public humanities very seriously. A critical part of our mission thus concerns engaging in community partnerships that advance outreach, civic engagement, and community-university research.

Here’s what some of our community partners have to say about a few of our more recent joint community-university research and civic engagement activities –

Renate Pore, former Board of Directors President of the West Virginia Center on Budget & Policy:

“I have found the Marshall University Humanities Program a good ally in its educational programming and outreach to the organizations I work with.  Most recently, the Humanities Program worked with the West Virginia Center on Budget and Policy in documenting the impact of the West Virginia American water crisis in 2014. I am looking forward to other joint ventures with the Humanities Program in documenting the impact of public policy on the lives of West Virginians.”

Michael Tierney, Executive Director, Step by Step:

“I cannot overstate the importance of Marshall’s support for these efforts, both the brilliance of the department’s staff and students, and what it means to ground public discussion in the larger theme of the humanities as they play out in Appalachia—a sense of place, commitment to kith and kin, and the issues of civic responsibility within conflicting community needs.”

Bill Davis, philanthropist and President of the Historic Glenwood Foundation:

The Glenwood Center for Scholarship in the Humanities “has permitted the Charleston community to benefit from humanities programming… Without the involvement of Marshall and Dr. Lassiter in the Center this type of effort would not be possible.”

Ken Sullivan, former Executive Director of the West Virginia Humanities Council

“Kanawha Valley’s own educational institutions traditionally offered only limited opportunity for graduate training in the humanities. Historically, the Marshall University Graduate College and its predecessors have helped to fill the gap by offering first-class instruction at a nearby location, at reasonable cost, and on a schedule suited to the needs of busy students. This has been of tremendous value to many people, and continues to be of value today. . . . The Humanities Council has enjoyed a long and productive working relationship with the Graduate Humanities Program. . . . We have been able to provide grant support for projects there, and often collaborate informally.”

Robert F. Maslowski, President of the Council for West Virginia Archaeology:

“For more than a decade, the Graduate Humanities Program has provided West Virginia with the only graduate program on local archaeology.  The Graduate Humanities Program has collaborated with Concord University, the West Virginia Humanities Council, the Council for West Virginia Archaeology, the West Virginia Archeological Society, the Glenwood Foundation, the University of Kentucky and the Summers County Historical Society to provide unique field experiences and programs for its students and to obtain grants for archeological research in southern West Virginia.”

  • “The program was an incredible asset to my personal and professional growth, it allowed me to understand core concepts of humanities and a solid foundation to apply them and utilize public humanities. When people asked me in what area I was getting my M.A., their next question was invariably what will I do with a Humanities degree. My answer to that was/is anything my heart and mind desires to create: this is the gift of the Graduate Humanities Program, that if you can create it, it can be a reality. The field is wide open for those with backgrounds in liberal arts, and with diverse life experiences such as mine.” (Gabriella Williamson ’12)

  • “One thing in particular I found valuable while in the program was the intellectual challenge it offered through instruction, but also through those involved and fellow students. The program offered the means by which I could learn to look beyond analysis and the process of breaking things down and to consider meaning and experience as relevant to understanding anything. The term ‘lifelong learning’ gets thrown around quite a bit by various disciplines — to get a job, to get a degree, etc.; however, it seems that it is only within humanities that the term is committed as part of the essence of being human.” (Renae Bonnett ’11)

  • “It is most difficult to put into words…the program helped me not only academically but culturally. It was truly enriching and helped me fit in by getting to know the region and the people. I also valued getting to know the teachers and my classmates.” (Antonio Jiménez-Góngora ’10)

  • “The Marshall Humanities Program revitalized my faith in education. Yes, I realize that sounds cliché. Overly romanticized. But it’s completely true. In the Humanities Program, people weren’t concerned with the competitiveness of academia- they were concerned with me and my goals. I have never felt more encouraged in my academic pursuits. I also met a diverse group of people. Vastly intelligent. A well-traveled bartender with a love for Dostoyevsky. A computer-savvy servicewoman. A PR rep. Teachers, students, parents, retail workers. I grew so much in my understanding of the diverse human experience through listening to others tell their life stories.  All coming together for the same goal. Much like the humanities themselves. I learned about the importance of connections across the disciplines. How it’s less important for your writing to sound smart than it is for it to be written clearly. I am currently employed at a local historic house because of connections I made through the program. I also am in the last stages of getting my teaching certification. If I hadn’t gotten my MA in Humanities, I definitely would not be where I am now. I would not have regained my faith in the educational process and would not have continued. It is a learning experience that has forever changed my life.” (Ashley Clark ’10)