Humanities Means
— Josh Berk, executive director
Bethlehem Area Public Library

Humanities in action

Mar 26, 2015, 7:00 pm - Byham Theater, Pittsburgh

The Pennsylvania Humanities Council is proud to partner with the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust to present the dynamic opening speaker for the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival: Azar Nafisi, Iranian-American bestselling author of Reading Lolita in Tehran.  Nafisi will speak following a special introduction by Dr. William “Bro” Adams, chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Her topic: "Humanities & the Future of Democracies.” Ten years ago, Azar Nafisi electrified readers with her memoir Reading Lolita in Tehran, a multi-million-copy bestseller that made a passionate case for the vital role of imagination—and great English and American novels in particular—in preserving the soul and combating the noxious ideology of a totalitarian society. In her new book, The Republic of Imagination: America in Three Books, she turns her attention back to the democratic society that gave birth to these great novels and makes a passionate a case for the vital role of fiction in society today. How can democracy thrive without a democratic imagination? Nafisi will explore this and other provocative questions, drawing on her experiences in Iran and America. The event will take place on Thursday, March 26, 2015 at 7:00 pm. Tickets and more information on this, the first Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, are available at

Dec 16, 2014

What defines the humanities? Though you may not realize it, chances are good that you participate in the humanities every day. It’s what allows us to discover who we are. Understand others. Shape our world. Here’s what the humanities mean to us—and how we support them through our work at PHC.

Mar 24, 2015

PHC is seeking individuals committed to its mission of championing the humanities to fill open positions on its board of directors. Board members help shape PHC’s programs, guide its work in advocacy and fundraising, and provide strategic direction. "Our board members bring a wealth of experience in arts and culture, education and business, and they play an essential part in advancing our work,” says PHC executive director Laurie Zierer. Service on the board requires a considerable commitment of time and energy, but it offers an educational and rewarding opportunity to work collaboratively with fellow members on projects of importance. “If you believe in the place of the humanities in the life of our state and its people,” says board chair Mary Garm, “there is no better way to have a positive impact.” PHC seeks individuals from throughout the Commonwealth of diverse age, ethnicity and expertise. Candidates should reside in Pennsylvania or be employed full-time in the state. Elected nominees and applicants must be able to travel to board meetings and serve on committees. Board nominees and applicants are elected on the basis of their experience, diversity, and commitment to the public humanities. Members are eligible to serve up to two successive three-year terms. PHC’s 24-member board is comprised of private citizens, academic scholars, and governor appointees. Currently there are 20 members serving on the board with diverse backgrounds in business, law, education, and arts and culture.  Submissions are due by April 15.

  • jackson park
Jackson Park, Team Reading Lounge

Our Belief & Vision 

At the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, we believe that the humanities are a uniting and empowering force. They bring people together and provide the knowledge and strength they need to have an impact on their neighborhoods, cities, and towns.

The humanities develop essential thinking and social skills through the exploration of history, the arts, culture, literature, and music and through meaningful conversation. They help us make sense of the world we live in. Through the humanities, we learn to understand one another, to see new possibilities in our future, and to work, play, and live in more fulfilling ways.


Pennsylvania Humanities Council

What We Do

Promoting Essential Education—We help people develop abilities key to leading successful lives in the 21st century—from critical thinking, to creativity and collaboration.

Sparking Civic Engagement—We empower people to join together and make their communities stronger, using the tools of the humanities.

Championing the Public Humanities—We demonstrate and celebrate the value of the humanities and advocate for their support.