June 7, 2023
This week Ursuline College welcomes 25 faculty scholars from across the country to campus for two weeks for a National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Summer Institute: “Reading, Writing, and Teaching the Rust Belt: Co-creating Regional Humanities Ecosystems.”
This program, part of the Rust Belt Humanities Lab, is made possible by a $173,680 NEH grant to Ursuline College to help faculty discover the best teaching practices for sharing the story of the Rust Belt.
From Sunday, June 4 through Sunday, June 18, participants will be immersed in Cleveland’s history and culture. They will explore topics such as the importance of community-based storytelling, race and place, environmental justice and community health, and ways in which the humanities can contribute to the social and economic revival of the Rust Belt. Discussions are rooted in an extensive reading list featuring works including local-based Anisfield-Wolf Book Award winners as well as pieces from Belt Magazine, Great Lakes Now, and Chicago Magazine to name a few.
There will also be hands-on learning experiences and special field trips to Cleveland neighborhoods, the West Side Market, Heinen’s downtown in the Cleveland Trust Building, the Cleveland Public Library, and EDWINS Leadership and Restaurant Institute as well as Farmer Jones and Rid-all Green Ghetto Farms.
The schedule also includes a presentation that is open to the public. Comics creator, Derf Backderf will discuss comics as documentation and acts of witness. Copies of his work will be available for purchase by Mac’s Backs Books on Coventry.
Grant recipient and institute organizer Katharine Trostel, PhD, explains, “Cleveland is an exemplary model for the Rust Belt’s challenges and opportunities. For too long, the Rust Belt narrative has been one of emptiness, decay, decline, and vacancy. Our stories are often neglected in the national sphere or controlled by cultural outsiders.”
Dr. Trostel, associate professor and chair of Ursuline’s English department continues, “Our hope is to find ways for academics to connect with and serve Rust Belt neighborhoods and identify how the humanities can contribute to the social and economic revival of the Rust Belt