BEING HUMAN: 2019 Festival Sparks Humanities Insights Among over 1,000 Participants Across New Jersey

January 31, 2020

By Ruby Shao ’17, Humanities Council Project Coordinator

The shared quest for knowledge bloomed into nascent friendships along with new ideas among over 1,000 diverse people, in and out of the academy, through Princeton University’s Being Human Festival 2019. Being Human enlivens the humanities for non-academic audiences. Based in the U.K., this international initiative has only one U.S. hub, coordinated at Princeton University by the Humanities Council in partnership with the Program for Community-Engaged Scholarship.

Princeton University’s festival launched in October 2019 during National Arts and Humanities Month, the largest annual celebration of the arts and humanities in the U.S. Lasting into January 2020, 23 free events swept across New Jersey. Each sprung from a town-gown collaboration between at least one Princeton University researcher—drawn from faculty, staff, or students—and at least one community member unaffiliated with Princeton University. Attendees included not only locals but also visitors from across the Northeast.

The semester of festivities revolved around the 2019 international theme of “Discoveries and Secrets,” which delved into untold stories, hidden histories, and mysteries. Offerings more than tripled in number, while exploding in range and reach, compared to those of Princeton University’s 2018 pilot run.

In 2019, Being Human opened with a call for local artists using any medium to capture “The Spirit of Truth-Seeking,” an October 11 public conversation introduced by Princeton University President Christopher L. Eisgruber ’83. Eisgruber said that he heartily endorsed a declaration published by the evening’s speakers, Princeton University Professor Robert P. George and Harvard University Professor Cornel West *80: “The pursuit of knowledge and the maintenance of a free and democratic society require the cultivation and practice of the virtues of intellectual humility, openness of mind, and, above all, love of truth.”

Relive the diversity of the festival from beginning to end:

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