The Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University began in 1983 as a home for research, public programming and for the development of ideas concerning social issues. The Institute was one of the first such Institutes in Canada to pursue these goals. The mandate to build audiences for the humanities in the public sphere has been carried out along four broad interrelated themes: humanities and modernity; community education; cultural roots of violence and nonviolence; human rights and democratic development.
Since its inception in 1983, the Institute has been dedicated to the exploration of the critical perspectives that relate social concerns to the cultural and historical legacy of the Humanities. The Institute seeks to facilitate the development of attitudes that lead toward active engagement in society. In taking such a role, the Institute hopes to contribute reflective, contemplative, and critical public points of view on the conflicts and contentious issues of our time.
The Institute achieves the above goals by:
- Initiating, planning and supporting interdisciplinary programs, conferences, seminars and research that bring together faculty in the Humanities, Social Sciences and Arts, with each other and with members of the wider community to discuss and study areas of common concern, and of social and intellectual significance;
- Encouraging, facilitating, and participating in independent, multi-disciplinary research on a variety of themes and issues related to modern cultural studies;
- Working closely with the Department of Humanities in the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences in support of its teaching program;
- Establishing contacts with organizations and universities where similar programs and Institutes exist.
Through these programs and initiatives, the Institute hopes to bring together the resources and expertise of the University and the interests and the needs of groups in the wider community.