Erin Benay, associate professor of early modern art and director of undergraduate studies and Deepak Sarma, professor of religious studies and professor of bioethics have been named inaugural Distinguished Scholars in the Public Humanities.
Provost and Executive Vice President Ben Vinson III made the announcement in a surprise email to the recipients Feb. 11.
“Their appointment in this position will help us achieve greater social impact, a major goal of the university’s strategic plan,” Vinson said. “We are delighted with their impact to date and look forward to more of their outstanding productivity and ingenuity. They help us illuminate what is possible in higher education.”
The scholars will deliver an annual lecture, showcasing their work in the context of a broader discussion on the impact and implications of the public humanities.
Benay and Sarma also will deliver a public humanities-related course or seminar in conjunction with the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program, intended to reach the broader public.
“The public humanities provide a great opportunity to engage various communities on critical issues of civic, cultural, and public life, which is central to the work of the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program,” said Paul Tiyambe Zeleza, Visiting North Star Distinguished Professor, associate provost and director of the Siegal Lifelong Learning Program. “We’re thrilled the university has established the Distinguished Scholar in the Public Humanities program, and we look forward to working with these exceptional humanities’ faculty in promoting public conversations on important issues.”