Support the Humanities at Messiah College

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The humanities are alive and well at Messiah College, but we need your help to continue  our programs moving forward.  Please consider contributing to our ongoing work, especially as it relates to student research in the humanities and efforts to engage our region with humanistic learning and programs.

In the fall I will be entering my eighteenth year on the history faculty of Messiah College and I am grateful for the college’s commitment to the study of history, philosophy, literature, modern and ancient languages, religion, political philosophy, peace and conflict, and rhetoric during a time when these disciplines and ways of thinking about the world are in jeopardy at colleges and universities across the country.  I am also proud of our work in the region through our Center for Public Humanities, Digital Harrisburg Initiative, and Public Humanities Fellows Program.

As I have argued multiple times here at The Way of Improvement Leads Home and elsewhere, the humanities are absolutely essential to future of American democracy and the common good.  I am thankful to work and teach at a place where my colleagues and administration are on board with this mission.

I hope you will consider helping us strengthen the humanities at Messiah College by making a donation at our crowdfunding page.

Below is a letter that Peter Powers, Dean of the School of Humanities, recently sent to Messiah humanities alums.  It is a nice summary of some of our humanities-based programs.

One of my great pleasures as Dean is seeing humanities students in this school help us understand the world, and also change the world for the better.  One big way they accomplish that is through undergraduate research that contributes to the public good through community engagement.  I’d like to invite you to partner with us in continuing our work for the common good through the work of our undergraduate scholars.

Two programs of which I’m especially proud are our Public Humanities Fellows and our Digital Harrisburg Initiative.  Students in these programs work collaboratively with faculty and with community partners to deepen their understanding of their disciplines and to directly contribute to educational and cultural needs of the Harrisburg region.  Whether helping school students to research and write poetry about their neighborhoods, or collaborating with community members to map the stories of their Harrisburg ancestors, these programs help us deepen our civic engagement as our understanding of one another.

Together these programs exemplify undergraduate humanities research for the public good, a fact recognized by the Council of Independent Colleges when they recently awarded Messiah College a grant to collaborate with multiple public and private partners in remembering and celebrating the history of an important African American neighborhood in Harrisburg from the early 20th century. Such partnerships exemplify the best of what it means for us as Messiah College to be a Christian institution of higher education that is working for the common good with our community neighbors.

This work requires steady commitment of time, energy, and talent.  I invite you to partner with us in this commitment.  You could do this in several ways.  First, pray for us, as you have the opportunity.  Second, consider supporting this work by donating to this project.  Every donation will help us meet our goal of raising ten thousand dollars. Every dollar will go directly to supporting undergraduate research in the humanities, with a priority given to the Public Humanities and the Digital Harrisburg initiative.  Finally, help us out by sharing this project with other people in your social and personal networks, letting them know we would value their support.  To learn more or donate – check-out our crowdfunding page! Visit: https://crowdshark.webapps.messiah.edu/humanitiesresearch/donate/115

With gratitude for your support,

 Pete Powers

Dean, School of the Humanities

Crowdfunding

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As many of you know, the Internet is an amazing tool for fundraising.  Sites like Kickstarter are growing in popularity.  Worthy start-up projects are able to gain the kind of exposure that would have been unthinkable a decade or two ago.

The possibilities for using the web to raise funds for history-related projects have yet to be thoroughly tapped.  Over at History@Work, Noah Goodling asks: “Will digital crowdfunding work for your next project?”  Here is a taste:

In August, 2012, an extraordinary thing happened: a small museum, dubbed the Friends of Science East (FSE, now the Tesla Science Center at Wardenclyffe), which was being run out of two unused classrooms in a local high school on Long Island, began an online fundraising campaign which raised over $1 million in just over a week. The money was to be used to buy a local historical site, a laboratory utilized by the 19th century inventor Nikola Tesla called Wardenclyffe; the museum planned to repair the site and convert it into a science and technology museum to honor Tesla’s legacy. The story quickly went viral on the Internet, as journalists and bloggers asked the same set of questions: How did a small, virtually unknown museum manage to marshal such incredible resources so quickly? And what implications does this success carry for fundraising for public historians? 

The answer to the first question lies in the power of the digital realm to connect together audiences and innovators with shared interests. In this case, the digital tool that was used is called crowdfunding. Crowdfunding is simply a term that is used to describe the backing of projects or causes by groups of people, usually on the Internet, who combine their money and resources to meet a fixed goal. Projects are typically aggregated onto sites that specialize in crowdfunding, like Kickstarter or IndieGoGo.

Jane Alcorn, the president of Friends of Science East, offers some suggestions for crowdfunding your latest project:

1.  Find the right person or platform to promote your product

2.  Set easily achievable goals

3.  Take time before the campaign begins to make your cause credible

4.  Use social media aggressively and persistently to promote your cause.

In the appendix of my forthcoming Why Study History?Reflecting on the Importance of the Past, I make a proposal for a Center for American History and a Civil Society.  The more I think about it, the more I am wondering if crowdfunding might be the way to get something like this off the ground.