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Project Humanities receives national award in Washington, D.C.

December 04, 2013

ASU’s Project Humanities stepped into the national spotlight again and was recognized today by a leading higher education organization for its innovative effort to engage communities with the arts and sciences.

The Phi Beta Kappa Society selected Project Humanities as its inaugural recipient for the Key of Excellence Award at a Dec. 4 ceremony in Washington, D.C. The ceremony was the launch of The Phi Beta Kappa Society’s National Arts & Sciences Initiative, which recognized Project Humanities for its leadership and impact.

“Project Humanities received unanimous support in our selection process for its leadership in local and national conversations about the breadth, depth and value of the humanities across disciplines,” said John Churchill, secretary for The Phi Beta Kappa Society. “Project Humanities is successfully blending academic research, community outreach, student development and interdisciplinary approaches in compelling frameworks created by and enjoyed throughout the community. We applaud their vision and believe their efforts deserve Phi Beta Kappa’s national spotlight.”

The Phi Beta Kappa Society was founded in 1776 and is the oldest and most widely-known academic honor society in America. It celebrates and advocates excellence in the liberal arts and sciences, and has over half a million members and chapters at 283 American colleges and universities. 

Neal Lester, who helped to create and has directed Project Humanities since its inception, accepted the award and a $5,000 cash prize to support continued work.

“The pursuit of meaningfulness, integrity and truth is at the heart of the work of Project Humanities, and we are committed to finding common ground where talking, listening and connecting do matter,” said Lester, who is a Foundation Professor of English. “Humans flourish when we accept that we are not the center of the universe and that one measure of success is accepting a life grounded in generosity, service, selflessness and possibility.”

ASU’s Project Humanities is a university-wide initiative that promotes and showcases the range, relevance and diversity of faculty and student humanities research and outreach. With both a national and international presence in conversations about the role, impact and importance of humanities study, content, courses and multidisciplinary collaboration, Project Humanities sponsors or co-sponsors approximately 100 programs a year. Themed bi-annual kick-offs, such as “Perspectives on Place”; “Are We Losing Our Humanity?”; “Heroes, Superheroes and Superhumans”; and “Humor…Seriously,” have featured high-profile guests and scholars, student and community participation, and have garnered national attention.

For more information on ASU’s Project Humanities, visit