50 Years of Oregon Humanities

Participants in an Oregon Humanities facilitation training.
Photo caption

Participants in an Oregon Humanities facilitation training.

Joseph Glode courtesy of Oregon Humanities.

(December 7, 2022)

In 1971, the Oregon Committee for the Humanities was created with a $100,000 grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), as one of six states to participate in an experimental affiliate program. More than 50 years later, what is now known as Oregon Humanities’s founding model has been used in many of the 56 state and jurisdictional councils that work in partnership with NEH to bring the humanities to communities around the country. In the years since Oregon Humanities was established, it has evolved significantly, from operating solely as a re-granting institution for NEH into an independent organization and producer of humanities programming, resources, media, and more. 

One of five statewide partners of the Oregon Cultural Trust, Oregon Humanities’s mission is to connect people and communities through conversation, inspiring understanding and spurring collaborative change. Oregon Humanities works towards this mission through hundreds of public programs hosted annually, ongoing training and support services for facilitators, and grant and fellowship opportunities that empower individuals and organizations to meet the needs of their communities. Through programs like Consider This, a series of onstage conversations held since 2009 with writers, activists, civic leaders, and other experts, Oregon Humanities invites Oregonians to come together and explore complex ideas and questions.  

Through its ongoing initiatives, Oregon Humanities gives communities the tools and opportunities to connect more deeply. The council supports discussion programs in cities and towns throughout Oregon through the Conversation Project and So Much Together workshops, which celebrate the creative, imaginative work happening in the state and broader Pacific Northwest. Oregon Humanities also offers trainings and facilitated conversations for foundations, government agencies, corporations, and other organizations, bringing relevant humanities programming to all sectors of society. Oregon Humanities has facilitated workplace conversations for a diverse collection of organizations, including the Portland State University College of Arts and Sciences, the City of Springfield, and Intel, among many others.

Oregon Humanities awards thousands of dollars in grant funding each year to humanities programs across the state. In March 2022, Oregon Humanities awarded $24,000 in Consider This Mini Grants for Libraries, enabling local libraries to host Consider This events in their communities. In Newport, the Public Library received a grant to host a program on employment, education, and the struggle to achieve the American Dream, including reflections on the broader impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. In May 2022, the council awarded an additional $115,028 in Public Program grants to 18 Oregon organizations, supporting programs that bring communities together to explore contemporary issues and find common ground. In Beaverton, a Public Programs grant supported The UPRISE Collective’s American Sign Language and Community Access Realtime Translation services for the organization’s Disability Justice Speaker Series and monthly Coffee Hours.

NEH thanks Oregon Humanities for its longstanding partnership and dedication to strengthening the communities it serves through the humanities. To learn more about upcoming events, grant opportunities for 2023, and how you can connect with Oregon Humanities, visit oregonhumanities.org.