Carolina’s Human Heart: Living the Arts and Humanities

The arts and humanities inform, inspire, ignite and excite us. They bring context and meaning to the important issues of the day — and to our lives. In fall 2016, the College of Arts & Sciences at UNC-Chapel Hill launched a major new initiative that amplifies and integrates the work that College faculty, staff, students and alumni are doing in the wide array of fields that the arts, humanities and qualitative social sciences embrace.

Events, lectures, conferences, new research, courses, performances, exhibitions — you’ll find all of that and much more at this website, which is designed to serve as a central resource to assist academic departments, units and other schools at UNC-Chapel Hill to further conversations and collaborations. Read more about the initiative at the College’s website or read the press release here.

Follow Carolina’s Human Heart on social media at @unccollegeheart on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.


The six themes

To recognize the important role that the arts, humanities and qualitative social sciences play in helping us understand and address the major issues of our time, this yearlong initiative will bring special focus to six major themes: Social Justice, An Enlightened Citizenry, Tolerance and Understanding, Global EngagementFood and the Environment and Storytelling.

On this website, each theme – Social Justice, An Enlightened Citizenry, Tolerance and Understanding, Global Engagement, Food and the Environment and Storytelling – is represented by a colored brushstroke in our Carolina’s Human Heart logo. Look for the colors or search the tags to find stories and events that relate to each theme. (Of course, many topics cover multiple themes.)


A message from Terry Rhodes, senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities

Terry Rhodes

This is my life’s passion. I’ve been a UNC faculty member for almost 30 years. I’m moving into my fifth year as senior associate dean for fine arts and humanities, and I’ve been teaching and performing for a long time. I see on a daily basis the way arts and humanities can create bridges of understanding. I know how a book or play or performance or op-ed can really have an impact and make significant differences in people’s lives.

The humanities and arts are so much a part of people’s lives: they enrich us, unite us and help us understand what it means to be human.

Though the celebration is a yearlong initiative, Carolina’s Human Heart will live on to continue the legacy of great arts and humanities education at UNC.

I invite you to browse this website to find information about related news and feature stories, resources and links to advance your own study of the humanities, and a calendar of events.



Signature Events

thumbnail_JBdarwin snapPolanyi Lecture: Rethinking the Darwinian Revolution

March 28, 5:30 p.m.

Janet Browne, Aramont Professor of the History of Science, Harvard University, will deliver the annual Polanyi Lecture. Browne is Aramont professor of the History of Science at Harvard University where she teaches the history of biology, including the history of evolutionary theory. Her interests range widely over the life sciences, including natural history collecting, expeditions, museums, botany and the history of botanic gardens, and the field sciences in general. She is most widely known for her scholarly work on Charles Darwin that includes an award-winning two-volume biography that integrated Darwin’s science with his life and times. She has been at Harvard since 2006. Previously she taught at the Wellcome Trust Centre for the History of Medicine at University College London and was an associate editor of the early volumes of The Correspondence of Charles Darwin in Cambridge UK.

By the time of his death Charles Darwin was one of the most celebrated –and one of the most notorious—scientists in the world. And yet history tells us that Darwin was neither the first nor the only one to think of evolution. How did Darwin come to such prominence and what were the political, social, and scientific commitments involved in generating the concept of a ‘Darwinian revolution’?

A reception will be held after the lecture.


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Performing Commemoration: Musical Reenactment and the Politics of Trauma

March 31 — April 2

At the heart of this project lies the question: What is it to perform commemoration? Many musicologists and ethnomusicologists over the past few decades have attended to the performative dimension of commemorative activity—through such critical lenses as national and transnational cultures, the transfer of social memory, and the relation between individual and collective expression in music. In this conference, we ask what it is to think of commemoration as a performed mode of remembrance, and how the commemorative mode serves the ends of socialization and public power. We convene a conference to discuss the role of music in the performance of commemoration, in order to understand how diverse states, governments, organizations, communities, and individuals across the globe deploy the specter of trauma for public, private, or political ends. By so doing, we aim to trace out theoretical territory for performance in the study of memory, reenactment, and commemoration.


Find a full list of Carolina’s Human Heart events here, color-coded by theme.

Upcoming Events



Discover the Arts, Humanities and Qualitative Social Sciences



PlayMakers Repertory Company presents “My Fair Lady”

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents Alan Jay Lerner and Frederick Loewe’s “My Fair Lady,” the most “loverly” musical of them all, at the Paul Green Theatre in the Center for Dramatic Art April 5-29.


PlayMakers stages Shakespeare for all

This year, in addition to producing Twelfth Night as part of their main-stage season, PlayMakers also brought Measure for Measure to the local community through their inaugural Mobile Shakespeare unit.

30th Annual Carolina Indian Circle Powwow held at Fetter Gym Saturday, March 4, 2017.

(Jon Gardiner/UNC-Chapel Hill)

‘A treasure’

The Carolina Indian Circle celebrated its 30th annual powwow Saturday at Fetzer Gym with more than 30 dancers from American Indian tribes from throughout North Carolina participating in the ceremony.


PlayMakers Repertory Company presents “Twelfth Night”

PlayMakers Repertory Company presents Shakespeare’s “Twelfth Night” at the Paul Green Theatre March 1-19. The production is directed by Jerry Ruiz, Associate Artistic Director at PlayMakers, in his directorial debut with the company.