Mea Culpa

Taken by Rollin Hu

It’s been quite a while since my last post for Hopkins Interactive. The process of applying to graduate school has been taxing, my summer was filled with work,and family time and to be quite honest, the last thing on my mind has been my SAAB blog. Now I’m not presumptuous enough to think that my lack of blog posts has been detrimental to anyone’s general well-being. The issues on which I choose to focus are provincial, and probably self-involved. I am also not nearly noble enough to have returned to my blog simply for the sake of writing about ‘meaningful issues’. Hopefully as I continue to write in this space moving forward, I will touch upon topics that are relevant here at Hopkins, and more generally to non-Hopkins readers as well. All that aside, I thought my first blog back into the swing of things would have to do with me. Updates about my plans moving forward, a recap of the summer, a general picture of what the life of a Hopkins student can look like. But I won’t be writing about any of that, at least not today. Today I want to focus on something, of far more importance than what I hope to do after college. I want to talk about the humanities here at Hopkins, and hopefully bring attention to an important issue.

Taken by Rollin Hu

Taken by Rollin Hu

Hopkins is known primarily by its reputation as the place to be if you want to work at the cutting-edge of biomedical research. Want to be a doctor? Come to Hopkins. Want to design vaccines to cure Zika and the like? Hopkins is the natural choice. At least so long as I’ve been here, Hopkins has already tried to draw attention to its strong humanities programs. And with good reason, Hopkins has far more to offer than the sciences, and the crystallized representation of Hopkins humanities, in all its inter-disciplinary glory has been the Humanities Center. Without going into too much detail, the Humanities Center has for 50 years been a department covering various parts of the humanities from a different angle than that of other Hopkins departments. The graduate program (no undergrad major has been established but we’ll get to that in a minute) which is very highly regarded has a strong placement record, and the department invites renowned speakers from across the globe. Moreover, external and internal reviews of the department were generally very positive. The department itself is the best (and sometimes only place) to take classes (open to undergrads) on comparative lit, continental philosophy, and numerous other underserved academic domains. In short, the department is successful and vital to flourishing of the humanities at Hopkins. Despite this, the administration has threatened the Humanities Center with closure, and appointed another review committee ostensibly to review the department and “consider options.” There’s a lot more to this story than I can tell here, but it seems that all the possible criticisms of the Humanities Center have either been addressed or have been attempted to be addressed. I’m not sure what is behind this proposed closure, and I would encourage you to make your own minds by checking out some resources here:

  1. http://www.supporthumctrjhu.com/
  2. http://www.jhunewsletter.com/2016/10/27/the-end-of-the-humanities-center/
  3. https://www.facebook.com/HandsOffHopkinsHumanities/?fref=t

There is more I want to write about, and more about the happenings of my student experience which deserve to be written. But this issue has become all encompassing for me, and more largely representative of the direction taken by a place I love. So I’ve chosen to discuss it, and done my part to make my voice heard here (hopefully and elsewhere), I encourage you all to do the same. Why? Because Hopkins as a university with a strong commitment to the humanities is an infinitely richer place than Hopkins as simply a hub for bio-medical research. Hopkins as an institution devoted to the larger human enterprise of pursuing knowledge and synthesizing the results from various disciplines in support of that enterprise is  vitally dependent upon the humanities.  Closing the Humanities Center would be antithetical to what Hopkins should be, and what drew me and many others here in the first place. I love this school, and readers, I’m sure you would too. But perhaps not the sort of school that doesn’t place appropriate value on the well-being of its students/faculty, nor the sort of place that ignores the importance of the interdisciplinary work done by the Humanities Center.