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Press Release

Hannah Arendt Center at Bard Awarded NEH Grant

Mark Primoff

ANNANDALE-ON-HUDSON, N.Y.––The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College has been awarded a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Challenge Grant of $425,000. Founded in 2006, the Hannah Arendt Center is an intellectual incubator for the highest quality scholarship on Hannah Arendt and her work. Focusing on engaged humanities thinking, the Center strives to elevate and deepen the public discourse that is the bedrock of our democracy while bringing a humanistic spirit to bear on difficult issues that matter most to our age.

This generous NEH grant, which requires recipients to match funds on a three-to-one basis, will help raise a $1.7 million endowment for the center. The grant and its matching funds will help to support the Hannah Arendt Center Fellows Program, which provides postdoctoral fellowships for humanities scholars doing research related to the thinking and works of Arendt, as well as access to the Hannah Arendt Collection at Bard College. The grant will also establish an annual First-Year Seminar Hannah Arendt Center Distinguished Lectureship in the Humanities, bringing extraordinary scholars to Bard, further integrating the Arendt Center into Bard’s undergraduate curriculum and invigorating the humanities at Bard; inaugurate the annual Arendt Center Working Groups in the Humanities, offering Bard faculty and scholars from around the world the opportunity for collaborative humanities work that promises to jump-start new research agendas; and initiate the NEH-Arendt Center Speaker Series at the Bard Graduate Center in New York City, increasing the impact of the Arendt Center’s annual conference and connecting Bard with humanities programs at the Bard Graduate Center.

“An NEH Challenge Grant is an extraordinary opportunity to secure and expand the Arendt Center’s mission to bring Arendt’s humanist approach to thinking about worldly questions to a wider group of engaged citizens,” said Roger Berkowitz, director of the Hannah Arendt Center. “We are especially excited to inaugurate Arendt Center Working Groups in the Humanities, which will bring scholars from around the world to Bard for weeklong intensive reading groups on major texts in the humanities. The first Working Group, cosponsored with the University of Chicago’s Department of Political Science, will bring 12 leading Arendt Scholars to Bard in 2012 to read and discuss Arendt’s Denktagebuch, her ‘Book of Thoughts’.”



About The Hannah Arendt Center

The Hannah Arendt Center for Politics and the Humanities at Bard College is an expansive home for thinking about and in the spirit of Hannah Arendt. As the intellectual cornerstone of Bard College’s Civic Engagement Initiative, the Hannah Arendt Center believes that liberal arts thinking is at the core of enlightened politics. While policy questions are important, serious political engagement requires that citizens confront the intellectual foundations of the crises and challenges facing our world. The Arendt Center nurtures the foundational thinking that prepares students for active citizenship that can humanize an often inhuman world.

Through its annual conferences and other programs, the Hannah Arendt Center at Bard is dedicated to nurturing the kind of engaged thinking about political questions that is so needed and so vital in today’s age, but which is often avoided or ignored. In 2009, at the height of the financial crisis, the Center asked people to step back from policy suggestions and finger pointing and think about the deeper intellectual foundations of the financial crisis. In 2010, the Arendt Center assembled leading public intellectuals such as Ray Kurzweil and Sherry Turkle, as well as philosophers, artists, and business people, and challenged them to confront the increasing inhumanity of our age. As machines and systems make more of the essential ethical and political judgments that stamp our age, what role do humans have in our increasingly inhuman world? In two conferences in 2011—“Lying and Politics” and “Truthtelling: Democracy in an Age Without Facts”—the Hannah Arendt Center examined the impact de-factualization has on the world of politics today, and the role common truths must play in our future. These conferences—in conjunction with lecture series, website, blog, courses, fellowships, and publications, promote thinking that challenges common-sense assumptions and gives depth to public understandings. The effort is to provide an intellectual space for thinking that can reframe the questions that form the center of our democracy.


For more information about the center, please visit:

About the National Endowment for the Humanities

Created in 1965 as an independent federal agency, the National Endowment for the Humanities supports research and learning in history, literature, philosophy, and other areas of the humanities by funding selected, peer-reviewed proposals from around the nation. Additional information about the National Endowment for the Humanities and its grant programs is available at:



December 13, 2011

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This event was last updated on 12-23-2011