Aerial photo of the University of Calgary main campus

Who we are

For over forty years, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities has worked to foster humanities research of the highest order, to encourage interdisciplinary conversations between scholars, and to communicate the results of Humanities research to the greater community. The humanities as traditionally conceived encompass the study of languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion and the arts. At the CIH, we take a broader approach to the humanities, to include all forms of study that illuminate what it means to be human.

Created at the University of Calgary in 1976, the CIH has a proud history of supporting research excellence through three key programs: our annual resident fellowships; our research projects; and our knowledge engagement with the community.

Each year the CIH hosts a variety of Research Fellowships: including resident fellows, doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, and visiting fellows. Fellows at the institute are given the time and space to pursue high-calibre research projects, and to share their insights with scholars from different disciplines. Recent fellows have pursued projects on such diverse topics as: the history of ancient Sparta; experimental poetry; Mayan cave ritual; gender parity in parliaments; the archives of Alice Munro; and piracy and nationalism in the seventeenth century.

Our research projects bring together groups of scholars from the University and beyond to address focused research questions. These have resulted in over thirty volumes of essays in areas such as literature, philosophy, religion, and the history of science. More recently, the CIH has explored the future of Calgary, issues in medical humanities, and humanities for the environment.

Since 1981, the CIH has held an Annual Community Seminar to explore timely cultural and social issues. Each year we bring three scholars from diverse fields to explore an issue with the Calgary community in a downtown setting. These dynamic and interactive events have been broadcast by CBC Radio’s Ideas program and published as books. Recent seminars have looked at the phenomenon of public apologies; the Canadian judicial system; homelessness; online ethics; and foodie culture.

The humanities have always been at the heart of the modern university, and they play a key role in our society. The CIH works to support the best of humanities research at the University of Calgary and to bring the results of this research to the communities the university serves. In a rapidly changing world, this is a vitally important function: the humanities help us to understand who we are and where we came from; they help us to understand and respectfully engage with those who are different from us; and they encourage a curiosity and imagination that allow us to bring older ideas to the new worlds in which we find ourselves.

Institute Administration

photograph of Jim Ellis

Dr. Jim Ellis

(403) 220-3928

photograph of Noreen Humble

Dr. Noreen Humble

(403) 220-4560

Portrait of Sean Lindsay by photographer Adrian Shellard

Sean Lindsay

(403) 220-7239

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