Roger Ray Institute for the Humanities


Initially founded in 1986 and directed by Roger Ray, professor of history, the Humanities Institute in the College of Arts and Letters at The University of Toledo was re-activated in 2014. The current director is Barry Jackisch, visiting associate professor of history.

The Humanities Institute advocates for and supports the study of human culture at all levels of learning and scholarship, through both disciplinary and interdisciplinary means. It seeks both to sustain the work of humanities scholars at the University and also to foster the dissemination of that knowledge and expertise to a larger community of learners both inside and outside the University.

What are the humanities?

In the university setting, they are the academic disciplines that study human culture through descriptive, critical, and qualitative means (as opposed to experimental or quantitative methods of the sciences and social sciences). Most humanities fields have a historical component, as well. History, literature, philosophy, linguistics, classics, modern languages, art history, film theory and history, theater history, popular culture studies, religion are all generally considered humanities disciplines. But many social sciences have humanities components, too: for example, the study of political theory, though often carried on in political science departments is, at its heart, the study of political philosophy, and anthropology, generally considered a social science, also carries on a study of human culture through descriptive methods. There are also people working in cross-disciplinary fields such as women's and gender studies, disability studies, environmental studies, and ethnic studies who draw on the humanities as well as the social sciences and sciences. And newer fields such as digital humanities and medical humanities are equally hard to pin down. But at their heart, the humanities ask what it means to be human and ponder that question through the things humans create.

That means you, too, probably participate in the humanities. Every time you discuss a movie with friends, post a review online, wonder what life was like in a different time, learn a new language, ask a museum docent a question, wonder what the origin of a tradition or cultural practice is, or ponder the big questions such as "What is the good life?" or "What is love?", you are practicing "everyday humanities."

All of our lives are touched by the humanities, and we hope you'll join us for celebrating their value and interest by attending our events — which are generally free and open to the public — and engaging with our humanities professionals. We welcome you.

Last Updated: 7/15/24