Chris Sommerich the Director of the Humanities Nebraska was our speaker at Lincoln South Rotary Club on March 15.
Chris explained that the humanities help us understand what makes us human as individuals and as a community.
Humanities include History, Literature, Philosophy, Arts/languages as we study history and culture. These are the things that hep us develop empathy, collaboration, communication and critical thinking.
The National Endowment for the Humanities was established by the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act of 1965. the purpose was to support research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities.
If you are interested you can read the statute (click here). Here are a few highlights:
  • a high civilization must not limit its efforts to science and technology alone but must give full value and support to the other great branches of man's scholarly and cultural activity 
  • that democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens and that it must therefore foster and support a form of education designed to make men masters of their technology and not its unthinking servant
Humanities Nebraska produces and supports many different programs each year.celebrating where we’ve been, who we are and what we will become. Some of the programs are:
  • Capitol Forum on America's Future
  • Chautauqua
  • Governor's Lecture in the Humanities
  • Museum on Main Street
  • Prime Time Family Reading Time
  • An Issue of Trust

They provide a speaker's bureau to communities across the state with historians, scholars and other experts offer more than 250 different humanities programs. 

Humanities Nebraska offers grants to nonprofit organizations in support of projects related to the humanities including history, literature, languages, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, and the history, theory and criticism of the arts such as:

  • Help fund a one-day festival and conference on Conflict Mediation, Family Health and Cultural Musical Talent show competition
  • Teacher workshops pairing components of Yazidi culture and themes of migration
  • Help fund 7 facilitated and structured informal gatherings to engage in conversations about diversity and inclusion 
They had activities in 155 different communities last year.
Chris Sommerich was named Humanities Nebraska executive director effective Jan. 1, 2011. He joined the council as development officer in 2004, and became development director in 2007. He has bachelor’s and master’s degrees in political science from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, where as a graduate assistant he served as undergraduate adviser and teaching assistant in the political science department. Chris achieved a Certified Fund Raising Executive (CFRE) certification in 2007, which emphasizes the highest standard of ethical and professional conduct in fundraising. He served on the board of directors for the Nebraska Chapter of the Association of Fundraising Professionals (AFP) in 2005-2011 and as its president in 2010. In 2014 Chris was elected to the board of directors of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, and he was a member of Class VII of Leadership Nebraska in 2014-15. He came to HN after four years of managing annual giving programs as development associate for Audubon Nebraska. Chris lives in Lincoln with his wife, Vicki, and two sons, Eli and Benjamin.