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Erika George

A Message from the Director

My time at the Tanner Humanities Center has been defined by a global pandemic, marked by the nationwide protests demanding justice in the aftermath of the murder of George Floyd, and characterized by a highly partisan and polarized political climate that culminated in a deadly attack on the US Capitol on January 6, 2021. More recently, ready access to information and ideas has been at risk by book bans and curriculum censorship in Utah and other states.

These unprecedented times have underscored the importance of deepening our capacity to understand the human condition and appreciating our common humanity. It has been an honor to lead the center through the upheaval and uncertainty of our present moment. I recognize that the Tanner Humanities Center has a unique and important role to play. Our work enables creativity, critical thinking, and empathy. We provide a space for reflection and analysis.

The challenges of the past few years have profoundly impacted our personal and professional lives—the implications of which we have yet to understand fully—these times tested each of us in different ways. I was called to rise to the challenge of leading with compassion and creativity. When the center closed in 2020 to protect the safety of our staff and patrons, I was eager to find new ways for our community to experience arts, culture, and the humanities. I did not want social distancing to become social isolation.

The Tanner Team found new ways to connect with the public through virtual Humanities@Home programs. We held conversations with Shoshana Zuboff, Ruha Benjamin, and Safiya Noble -- women conducting research on technology's cutting-edge role. By having conversations about these and other advanced issues, the Tanner Center will continue to provide a place for people passionate about ideas to imagine ways to move forward as a community and a society.

I continue to marvel at humanity's resilience. The humanities enable us to understand complexity and appreciate a range of ways of being in the world. I am excited for all we can become.

Erika George

    Director, Tanner Humanities Center
    University of Utah

Last Updated: 5/22/23