The case of Blood of the Root on stage.

Advancing the Arts and Humanities

Penn State will be a leader in embracing the vital role of the arts and humanities, utilizing them—along with the sciences and other disciplines—as agents of change in addressing complex global issues.

Like its strongest peers, Penn State has vibrant arts and humanities programs that are meaningful to its students and the broader community, and these will be strengthened further. We will encourage and promote fundamental inquiry, discovery, and understanding in these disciplines and selectively invest to bring more programs into the top tier, increasing the impact of already prominent programs. We also aim to promote a greater understanding of the work being done and highlight the impact of work in progress.

The arts and humanities offer timely answers to timeless questions. They can embody and make public our highest aspirations for ourselves and for our world. They foster imagination and innovation, which form the essential foundation of all human thought and the scientific and social progress (and sometimes regression) that follow from it. In times of shared success or times of conflict and fear, the arts and humanities are critical to our understanding of and balance among values, including choices we must inevitably make as individuals and as part of society. Also, in an increasingly diverse world, the arts and humanities play essential roles in preparing educated, empathetic, and globally engaged people who can, in turn, drive improved quality of life, inclusive community growth, and beneficial economic development.

Penn State will take a leadership role in using the arts, design, and the humanities—as it does with its many other strong disciplines—to help enhance personal experience and to address social and political challenges. While technology can open exciting new vistas, human values and aspirations determine how technologies are used, how new resources generated from technologies are allocated, and how we think about the opportunities and problems that new technologies raise. The arts and humanities help us to consider values of equality, freedom, privilege, and diversity; individual and communal good; ethical decision-making; and other choices intrinsic to group decisions. These values are critical to other priority areas of this strategic plan, including health, education, stewardship of our resources, and sustainability. Likewise, complex problems, whether local, regional, or global, require creative solutions involving multiple perspectives, and the arts and humanities promote the development of important skills in problem solving, communication (including across cultures), collaboration, creativity, and empathy, all of which are essential in 21st-century higher education and the world beyond.

Strategically strengthen the arts and humanities through investments in selected areas.

Penn State has substantial resources for and faculty strength to support the arts and humanities. We will continue to strengthen those areas and explore and support others that will encourage basic research along with innovation and economic development, wide-ranging intellectual discourse, student engagement with diverse communities locally and abroad, and actions that expand our understanding of societal and global issues. Support for the arts and humanities also requires faculty expertise throughout those fields and recognition of the roles that humanities-oriented library resources and arts-oriented institutes, centers, and venues play in our lives—including, for example, performance and visual arts spaces for academic programs that function as labs for arts students.

Invest in Penn State as a cultural destination and enhance personal engagement in the arts.

Penn State’s campuses serve as prominent cultural venues in Pennsylvania, and we will continue to elevate the institution’s cultural reputation and profile. Cultural programs, bringing outstanding scholars and performers and new perspectives, enhance economic development in our communities and should be integrated with Penn State’s approach to local innovation centers (e.g., LaunchBoxes). Penn State will continue to invest and reinvest in such facilities, as needed, to ensure they are modern, functional, and integrated into the educational and research fabric of the University. This investment will raise awareness of Penn State’s role as a cultural hub, serve as a magnet for faculty and students, and benefit the entire Commonwealth. We will expand the range and diversity of our programming and service in the humanities and the performing and visual arts and ensure that every Penn State student will have meaningful experiences through personal engagement in these areas.

Prepare students with the skills to work together to develop ethically and historically informed solutions to our most pressing problems.

As a public research institution, Penn State embraces its responsibility to deliver educational experiences that prepare students to be leaders in their communities and to be global citizens. Although culturally beneficial learning occurs across a wide range of disciplines across the curriculum, the co-curriculum, and outreach, the arts and humanities are fundamental for building cross-cultural understandings. We aim to empower arts and humanities faculty and academic units to build further connections for greater impact across the University. We must enhance students’ creative and humanistic skills through more opportunities to practice the arts and design disciplines, and to participate in informed discussions and decision-making processes through our humanities programs. We will support collaborations with departments and colleges throughout the University in more seamlessly integrating arts practice, diverse cultural knowledge, and humanities perspectives into their programs and co-curricular experiences.