ACLS Humanities E-Book (HEB) and the Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) share many goals related to new ways of thinking in the humanities and promoting the humanities to as wide of an audience as possible. HEB’s subscriber base of over 700 institutions is 10% community colleges and HEB always looks for ways to make our collection more accessible outside of traditional 4-year institutions.
My first exposure to the CCHA came through the Community College Humanities Review (CCHR) when the Spring 2017 issue caught my eye walking into the ACLS office one day. I tucked it away to read on a rainy day or on the train, but before that rainy day came, I connected with some members of CCHA on Twitter by chance. After some conversations about the exciting work going on at the CCHA, I was directed towards Ms. Sydney Elliott to talk about the newly redesigned CCHR and how the journal relates to the work of the CCHA.
If you want to learn more about the CCHA, visit www.cchumanities.org.
For information on purchasing and submissions for the Community College Humanities Review, visit https://www.cchumanities.org/connect/publications/journal/
Q: First off, great job with the redesign…the Spring 2017 issue is very engaging from both an aesthetic and content perspective. How do you see this redesign of the Humanities Review fitting into the broader organizational goals of the CCHA?
I would say the overarching goal or goals of CCHR is strengthening our visibility. Many of us in the field are feeling that the humanities are undervalued, and many colleges are experiencing major cuts in the field. CCHR is a way to defend the humanities and give a voice to those of us who think the humanities are essential to college program, degree requirements and the broader tapestry of our culture.
Q: What connects the Humanities Review to community colleges besides the publication of work from faculty at community colleges?
I think our expanded content speaks to a larger audience. CCHR hopes to inspire other two-year faculty, administrators, and staff to consider seeking out the CCHA community. As someone who works in one of Oregon’s smallest colleges, CCHR is a way to connect to a wider network of people and colleagues who continue to fight for and promote the humanities. It creates dialogue and a sense of unity and dissolve some of the institutional isolationism we sometimes can experience.
Q: I notice on the CCHA website that the journal has the intention of “building bridges” across disciplines to tackle issues (from a humanist perspective, of course) such as climate change, income inequality, environmental racism, among others. What is the largest motivator to branch out of the “classic” humanities fields into these areas?
The humanities are fundamental in nearly every field of study, discipline, or career. Business and tech models are reaching out to courses that inspire creative thinking, problem solving, and communication. We also have to acknowledge that the humanities also need to embrace change, continue to evolve, and embody a sense of inclusion that is necessary in our global economy and communities.
Q: I enjoyed reading about the disconnect between our projections of history and historical fact related to the Vikings, as history and fact are two hot button topics currently being debated (for better or worse). What was your favorite, for lack of a better term, item from the Spring 2017 issue?
I am really enjoying our new Profiles category. In the Spring 2017 issue, we featured a profile of Holocaust survivor and 2016 CCHA Southern Division’s Distinguished Lifetime Humanities Educator/Advocate Award winner, Joe Engel. This coming fall, we are featuring poet Mario Susko who had to flee Sarajevo with his family during the war. There will also be a profile of a community college student overcoming substantial odds to graduate top of his class.
Q: The Humanities Review is a great way for humanities scholars, students, and advocates outside of community colleges to get a better idea of the value of humanities in these institutions. What other ways of connecting the humanities in community colleges to the larger higher education arena do you think will be critical moving forward?
I think reminding everyone that we’re all on the same team. I see humanities departments in higher education suffering cuts and sometimes elimination. We need to convince administrations that by cutting humanities programs and courses, we are hurting our students and country as graduates will not be able to compete in the global market. But for me, it is even a larger issue: the humanities teach us how to be the best humans we can be—thinking, creative, empathetic, passionate, understanding, and curious—and the world needs that more than ever.
Sydney Elliott is an English instructor at Tillamook Bay Community College (TBCC) in Tillamook, Oregon. She has an MA in English from Portland State University and recently graduated from the Rainier Writing Workshop at Pacific Lutheran University with an MFA in Creative Writing. She is a frequent presenter at CCHA conferences, a published writer, yoga instructor, surfer, and vocalist in a jazz band. Sydney lives on the Oregon coast with her dog, Daisy. Image credit: A. Birkan ÇAGHAN