2024 Being Human Festival USA | National Humanities Center

Public Events

2024 Being Human Festival USA

January 25, 2024

tour leader and participants

April 15–29, 2024

2024 Being Human Festival USA

The inaugural USA edition of the Being Human Festival involved events in eight locations across the country, each of which was held between April 15 and April 29, 2024.

These community-focused events, organized and presented by local artists, scholars, and educators, highlighted the incredible breadth of the humanities and demonstrated the innumerable ways that they add depth and meaning to our lives, help us understand ourselves and one another, and provide context for the complex world around us.

The creation of the American edition of the festival was the latest international expansion of the Being Human effort, which began in the United Kingdom in 2014. Previous “Being Human” festival events have taken place in France, Italy, Romania, and Singapore. In 2017, a sister festival was established in Melbourne, Australia and Princeton University served as a hub for events in the US in 2018 and 2019.

2024 “Being Human” National Humanities Festival Events

Guns, Art-Making, and Truth: Public Dialogues on Gun Culture (inspired by Fourth Responders)

pointing hand made of gears

Wednesday, April 24, 4:30–6:30pm MST | Mirabella at ASU, Tempe, AZ
Organizer: Arizona State University

Arizonans are in need of dialogue that brings them together to seek connection and understanding in the face of gun violence and debates surrounding gun laws and regulations. For this event, undergraduate students will collaborate with each other and a faculty teaching team as well as local citizen groups and community experts focused on gun-related issues. They will design, curate, and present a series of short presentation or performance pieces such as TED-style talks, documentary films, musical and movement-based performances, and/or mixed-media projects. The event will promote creative “Fourth Responder” work in the community. The exhibits of the event will interweave humanities and arts-based research to incorporate lived experiences, critical engagement with controversial perspectives on guns and rights, and visions for a sustainable future that embraces safety and security in every community. The event is part of the National Humanities Center’s Being Human Festival in partnership with the Humanities Lab at ASU’s Spring 2024 Guns, Art-making & Truth Lab.
Event Page

Indigenous Arts Festival

front view of mansion

Wednesday, April 24, 6pm | Montgomery Place Estate, Annandale-on-Hudson, NY | Organizer: Bard College

This event will take place at the historic Montgomery Place Estate and will encourage an active exploration of regional and indigenous identity through history, art, education, agriculture, foodways, and placemaking. Indigenous artists from the area will lead hands-on workshops related to crafts and other traditions, while creating pop-up makerspaces where members of the public can watch and discuss their artistic practices.
Event Page

Spring into Our Shared Histories on the Carolina Garden Trail

cornucopia of plants and flowers

Tuesday, April 23, 6–8pm | UNC–Charlotte Botanical Gardens and Sycamore Hall, Charlotte, NC
Organizer: University of North Carolina at Charlotte

Have you ever wondered how plants and crops reflect our shared histories, providing a way to talk about North Carolina’s diverse cultures, generations, and geographies? Our free and fun workshop offers Charlotte leaders and educators creative ideas to boost community engagement for their students, visitors, and members. Learn how plants help us connect!

The Archive of Significant Objects

various curios on a table

Thursday, April 25, 6–8pm | Friday, April 26, 5–8pm | Saturday, April 27, 12–4pm | Sunday, April 28, 12–4pm
Opening event on April 26, 7pm | Tours on April 27 and April 28, 1pm and 3pm | Avalon Theater (In the Heart of the Beast Puppet and Mask Theater), Minneapolis, MN
Organizer: Felicia Cooper

This project brings together heartfelt stories of personal significance through physical objects. Playfully experimenting with new materialism and object performance, this temporary museum installation pokes fun at formality in a community-curated cabinet of curios.
YouTube Video

The Artistic Expression of Original Research

promo banner

Friday, April 19, 4–6pm | The Barn Theatre, University of California, Riverside, Riverside, CA
Organizer: University of California, Riverside

This exhibition exemplifies what incredible work can come from blending the humanities and sciences. During a three-day retreat at the UC Anza Borrego Reserve, organized by Ph.D. candidate Jessica Maccaro, students in the sciences will learn from artists across the mediums of paint, sculpture, creative writing, and music how to translate their original research or favorite scientific concepts into a piece of art. Through translating science into art the students will not only learn to communicate science in a new way but also to understand it in a new light. Besides simply clarifying facts, they will be guided to discover what science means to them and how it might be meaningful to our communities. The art exhibition is the culmination of this transformative experience. At the exhibitions, each of the students will attend with their work, ready to chat with community members about the science and emotion behind their pieces as well as their own scientific and artistic journeys. Gluck Fellows in the departments of art and creative writing for the performing arts will facilitate at artmaking tables, each with an objective that responds to materials or ideas. Attendees will have the opportunity to create work responding to the exhibition using the provided artmaking materials. This program is organized by the Gluck Fellows Program of the Arts at University of California, Riverside.
Event Page

The Power of Buttons: A Craft Workshop and Public History

jumbled collection of pinback buttons

Thursday, April 18, 3–6pm | Center of Creative Arts, Gold Design and Art Studio, St. Louis, MO
Organizer: Washington University in St. Louis

“The Power of Buttons” is a pop-up workshop engaging the broader St. Louis community with a small but powerful public text: the pin-back button. By focusing on the long history of the pin-back button, we intend to prompt more thinking about the wearable, shareable public texts that are so crucial to social movement and organization but so easily overlooked because of their diminutive and seemingly frivolous nature. Common personal possessions and highly circulated tokens of political or social affiliation, buttons are difficult to categorize as strictly text or object; they both document and disseminate personal beliefs and preferences. Developed by the Center for the Humanities at Washington University in St. Louis in partnership with local arts educator C.J. Mitchell, the “Power of Buttons” pop-up workshop will help participants consider the significance of buttons as a public text and persuasive tool throughout histories, social movements, civic engagement, humanistic inquiries, and community building. They will also design, create, and take home their own buttons! All ages and generations are welcome—snacks and supplies provided.

Event Page

Kirkland Zine Fest

collage of zine covers

Thursday, April 18: Kori Michele Handwerker, 11am and 2pm at Hamilton College Burke Library, Clinton, NY
Saturday, April 20: Ira Marcks, 10:30am at Kirkland Town Library, Clinton NY and 3pm at Hamilton College Burke Library, Clinton, NY
Sunday, April 21: Colleen AF Venable, 1:30pm at Kirkland Town Library, Clinton, NY
Organizer: Hamilton College

Upstate New York’s first ever week-long zine fest will bring together the greater Kirkland community to create zines through five hands-on workshops led by zine practitioners and cartoon artists: Kori Michele Handwerker, Ira Marcks, and Colleen AF Venable. Taking their name from “fanzine,” an abbreviated name for a fan magazine that was popular in the 1930s, a zine is a small, self-made/published, cheap, and easy to read magazine meant to convey personal and political views of the day. In this digital age, zines continue to be the medium par excellence for self-expression and the mode for self-publishing across socio-economic backgrounds, identities, and communities. This public humanities zine fest will be an opportunity to bring together K–12 students and teachers, families, college students and faculty, and the greater local public community to learn side-by-side about zines and how to make them.
Event Page

Writing the Route: Route 66 Bus Tour and Writing Workshop

vintage truck with highway sign

Saturday and Sunday, April 27–28 | Beginning and ending in Oklahoma City, OK
Organizer: University of Oklahoma Arts & Humanities Forum

As the nation approaches the centennial of the founding of Route 66, a Route 66 Bus Tour and Writing Workshop will be held in Oklahoma, which will engage community members in the creative process of writing from a landscape-based perspective and in dialogue with Route 66 voices they may not have encountered before. As participants journey with us along Route 66, they will also journey to a writing product they will develop by acquiring place-based literacies—that is, by learning to read place and write about their experience. How do we celebrate the ’50s classic cars and photo-stop landmarks like the Blue Whale of Catoosa and the Round Barn of Arcadia? And how do we balance that celebration with an understanding of what the route meant to a diverse swath of mid-century Americans, including women and African Americans?

Event Page Registration

About the National Humanities Center

front entrance of National Humanities Center building
The National Humanities Center (NHC) is unique: a free standing national resource devoted to advancing significant humanistic study and reflection and to making those insights available both inside and outside the academic world. Founded in the 1970s, the NHC is a private, nonprofit and the only major independent institute for advanced study in the world dedicated to supporting excellence in humanities research and teaching.

Since its inception, over 1,500 Fellows have worked at the NHC, leading to nearly 1,800 books, and untold thousands of other scholarly works. Many of these books have been recognized with prestigious awards and helped shape thinking across academic disciplines. The Center also offers an extensive array of professional development and high quality educational resources for teachers that benefit millions of students in K–12 and college classrooms across the country. In addition, the National Humanities Center maintains a host of public engagement and advocacy efforts to highlight the significance of the humanities as the foundation of a democratic culture, a fulfilling life, and an informed citizenry.


The National Humanities Center is able to accomplish its work though the generosity and dedication of individual donors, foundations, and corporations as well as a distinguished group of institutional sponsors, all of whom share our commitment to excellence in the humanities. Will you help us continue the Center’s critical work? Please consider making a gift today.

2024 Festival Sponsors

Organizers for each of this year’s events were awarded grants from the National Humanities Center to offset a portion of event costs. The grants were made possible through the generosity of our sponsors:

Thruston and Patricia R. Morton
J. Porter Durham
David Folkenflik
Rishi Jaitly
William C. Jordan

In the News

“Being Human” Festival Expands Internationally
National Humanities Center Announces Sites for Inaugural “Being Human” Festival
“‘Being Human’ Fest to Include Oklahoma Event,” The Journal Record, November 20, 2023