The case of Blood of the Root on stage.

Advancing the Arts and Humanities

Penn State will be a leader in 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, its disciplines, and the larger community, and these can be strengthened further. We will encourage and promote fundamental inquiry, discovery, and understanding in these areas and selectively invest to bring more programs into the top tier, increasing the impact of already prominent programs.

The arts and humanities, and design disciplines related to them, offer timely answers to timeless questions.  They can embody and make public our highest aspirations. 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 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. And, in an increasingly diverse world, engagement with the arts and humanities plays an essential role in creating an educated and humane citizenry, which in turn drives community and economic development.

Penn State will take a leadership role in using the arts, design, and humanities—as it does with its many other strong disciplines—to help address social and political challenges. While technology can open exciting new vistas, individual values and aspirations determine how technologies are put to use and for whom, how new resources generated from technologies are allocated, how we think about problems that new technologies raise, and how much we invest in technological and human solutions to address a range of issues. The arts and humanities help us consider values of equality and freedom, privilege and diversity, individual versus communal good, ethical and other value choices intrinsic to any group decisions. This evaluation is critical to other priority areas of this plan, including health, education, resources, and technology. Likewise, complex problems, domestic or global, require creative solutions involving multiple perspectives, and the arts and humanities facilitate the development of important skills in problem solving, communication, 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 research, intellectual discourse, student engagement, and action that leads to understanding of societal and global issues. Support for the arts and humanities also requires faculty expertise and recognition of the roles that 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 profile. 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 service to Pennsylvanians in 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 has a 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 via the curriculum, the co-curriculum, and outreach, the arts and humanities are fundamental for building cross-cultural understandings. We will encourage arts and humanities faculty and institutes to build connections for greater impact across the University. We must enhance students’ skills through more opportunities to create and practice the arts and design disciplines, and to participate in informed discussions and decision-making processes through many of our humanities-based centers and programs. We will encourage individual departments and colleges to more seamlessly integrate arts practice, cultural perspectives, and humanities into their programs and co-curricular experiences.