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
It has been helpful to hear other legislators from both parties answer difficult questions candidly. We rarely have that opportunity in the State House.
--New Hampshire State Legislator
New Hampshire Humanities Council Conversation Series
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.