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.
From the beginning, we recognized that civic reflection had the potential to have a transformative effect on our staff. In particular, we hoped that our staff would develop the ability to see their libraries and themselves differently, that they would come to regard the library as a meeting place and a crossroads for the community. This program gives us the opportunity to push our programming to a new level.
Riverside County Library System
I will take away the idea that life... is extremely complex. Every side has important points to make and it is important to listen to one another... Being American doesn't just mean being born here.
New Hampshire Humanities Council Conversation Series
We are heartened by the results of this program and the librarians' embrace of becoming catalysts for civic dialogue... We plan to expand the program and are delighted to have the Center for Civic Reflection and the Riverside County Library System as partners.
Director of Programs, California Council for the Humanities