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In 1997, the Institute on Ethnicity, Culture, and the Modern Experience at Rutgers-Newark was founded with the belief that the arts and humanities – in all their creativity and scholarly rigor – have a central role to play in the continued revitalization of Greater Newark. It strives, in the finest university tradition, to satisfy a hunger for new ideas and new ways of looking at the city and the world. The Institute, as part of a vibrant civic ecology, engages a range of community partners and audiences through public programs whose collective objective is to help make Newark a more livable, interesting, and civically wholesome urban environment.
Toward realizing that vision, Institute programs bring together the latest work in the arts and humanities with members of the community at-large including teachers, lawyers, students, corporate executives, medical professionals, parents, caregivers, elected officials, public servants, and life-long learners. The result is a more engaged and empathetic citizenry leveraging knowledge and insights generated by Institute programming to effect change in the community. Over the sixteen years of its existence, the Institute has become a national model for how publicly engaged research universities can help cultivate a more livable city, one that thrives on the creative rhythms of the arts and humanities.
With a track record that has drawn national attention as a model, the Institute creates partnerships that successfully tie Rutgers University to the Newark community and shrink the collegiate-community divide. Through its programmatic partnerships, the Institute provides research, pedagogical training, and academic programs to support the work of local and national institutions such as the Newark Public Schools, the Newark Public Library, the Newark Museum, the Newark Literacy Campaign, the Newark Public Housing Authority, the Boys and Girls Clubs of Newark, the Newark Division of Planning and Community Development, the New Jersey Performing Arts Center, the New Jersey Historical Society, the American Jewish Committee, the New Jersey State Police, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. With them, the Institute has launched initiatives that shed light on race and race relations, history and memory, the role of culture in democratic societies, and the importance of civic engagement in the Arts and Humanities.
Those initiatives include the annual Marion Thompson Wright Lecture series, founded in 1981 by Institute director, Dr. Clement Price and Giles R. Wright, NJ Historical Commission, new Jersey’s oldest and largest Black History Month conference; the Heningburg Civic Fellows program, which brings a cohort of civic leaders from the Newark community to Rutgers University-Newark to identify a major social issue whose successful resolution is central to the renewal of Newark; and the Dance Symposium Series which, since 2005, has presented performances by a broad array of artists in both ethnic and modern dance and provides educational workshops on the diverse histories and traditions of dance.
For more information on and examples of our programming, please click the links on the left.
The Institute is located at 49 Bleeker Street on the Rutgers-Newark Campus.