Applications are now open for the 2024-25 Fellowship.
The Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar sponsored by the Oklahoma Center for the Humanities at The University of Tulsa is intended to promote engaged, intellectual discussion on topics of current public and intellectual interest.
Every year, a group of approximately eight Research Fellows will be chosen to collaborate on a series of weekly seminar discussions. It is hoped that these discussions will then lead into further projects, undertaken collectively or individually. These might include magazine articles, creative works, digital projects, educational initiatives, or efforts designed to spur civic action and participation. TU students, faculty members, and members of the wider Tulsa community are all eligible to apply. The admissions committee will judge applications based on assessment of the proposal’s connection to the topic and potential for sparking dialogue among the seminar’s members.
Interdisciplinary Humanities Research Seminar on Space
From the beginning, we have looked to the skies with wonder, fear, hope, and curiosity. Archeological evidence from across the globe shows early humans trying to make sense of the stars, sun, and moon—mysterious celestial bodies that seemed to guide the changing seasons and offer insight into the future. Most religious traditions imagine their central deities living in the wondrous sky: the Egyptian Ra, the Pawnee Tirawahat, the Hindu Sirya, and the Roman Sol—the latter historically linked to the rise of the great monotheistic religions. The sky could be both heaven and hell, the home of the gods or a great battleground between light and darkness. No matter the cultural differences, the stars seemed to shape all human fate.
In the Renaissance and the Enlightenment, we began to see the heavens differently: not as the home of the gods but as part of a vast universe. Peering through telescopes and crafting ingenious mathematical concepts, scientists like Copernicus, Galileo, and Kepler steadily moved humans from the center of all things to a tiny blue dot spiraling near the edge of just one galaxy among at least 200 billion others. Carl Sagan invited us to see the wondering in this alienating expanse, while science fictions writers like Gene Rodenberry and Octavia Butler dared us to imagine space as a new human home. Now we see space as the edge of a “new frontier” and our planet as a fragile home amid nearly innumerable others—some of which almost certainly contain alien life.
Throughout the 2024-25 academic year, TU’s Oklahoma Center for the Humanities will explore the theme of space by looking to the past, crossing cultural boundaries, and working across disciplines to forge unexpected connections. This theme will also look to the way humans have sought to organize space on this planet, from the design of homes and cities to the drawing of maps and the fashioning of virtual environments.
The Center’s work will be broadly interdisciplinary and draw on the distinctive tools of the arts and humanities while also weaving them together with science, law, business, medicine, and engineering. Fellows will pursue their own research and help design a robust array of public programs at 101 Archer, including exhibitions, lectures, performances, and more. Faculty will pursue this work alongside specially selected students as well as members of the larger Tulsa community who will bring their own expertise and perspectives to bear.