Arts and culture today must mean more than wine and cheese -- and must increasingly engage a diverse range of people and communities. Civic reflection is one approach to the arts and humanities that can help transform programs at museums, libraries, arts organizations, and state humanities councils into participatory and engaged discussions that bridge the gap between the arts and humanities, and civic life.
No longer mere repositories of books and information, libraries and museums are becoming hubs of civic engagement and “community living rooms” – places where people come together to discuss the issues affecting their communities and the world.
The Center for Civic Reflection has worked with state humanities councils across the country to explore and refine the practice of civic reflection, train facilitators and guide programming around this practice, and, ultimately, continue exploring how to put the humanities into practice.
Civic reflection discussions help us develop a richer, more adequate vocabulary for communicating with one another... name the tensions without feeling judged... come to the table as equals... practice unselfish listening... and articulate meaningful questions that emerge from what we do.
New Hampshire Humanities Council
Libraries are ideally situated to nurture... democratic practices. Libraries are open to all; they contain books and other materials that can provide people with a common experience and vocabulary... Libraries, which are often seen as products of democracy, can also be seen as engines of democracy, as places where people go to engage with one another and to begin making a difference.
Director, Center for Civic Reflection
This series has caused me to think about how my values and beliefs influence my perspective on public issues.
--New Hampshire State Legislator
New Hampshire Humanities Council Conversation Series