A task force called for “a profound recasting of the humanities at Princeton” and a new Humanities Institute to be located in Green Hall.
Task forces offer ambitious proposals for humanities, civic engagement

As part of Princeton’s strategic-planning initiative, President Eisgruber ’83 has asked task forces to study more than a dozen aspects of teaching, research, campus life, and alumni affairs. The trustees will discuss each report before it is made public. PAW will summarize the reports as they are issued; here are two. Reports can be found at princeton.edu/strategicplan.


The task force called for “a profound recasting of the humanities at Princeton,” highlighted by the creation of a new Princeton Humanities Institute (PHI) that would be located in a renovated Green Hall.

In this scenario, PHI would become the hub of a humanities “neighborhood” extending to the Andlinger Center for the Humanities. Green Hall has been largely vacant since the psychology department moved to its new home adjacent to the Neuroscience Institute two years ago.

Among the recommendations:

Offer the option of a double major for A.B. students, which would be “the single most effective means” of increasing enrollment in humanities courses as well as the number of humanities majors. All of Princeton’s peers except Harvard offer the ability to pursue a double major.

Build a new home for the University’s art museum, in place of or near the current museum at the center of campus, to provide more exhibition and classroom space.

Create a new academic unit, Film and Media Studies, to focus on the history and theory of cinema and of media.

Recognizing that graduate students in the humanities take the longest time to complete their studies, provide sixth-year funding and a program to replace a recently discontinued fellowship program that had supported students in their final year.

Offer large gateway lecture courses as a way to attract more students to the humanities while offering more precepting opportunities for grad students.

Create semester-abroad programs geared toward sophomores; incorporate travel to other countries into humanities courses over fall and spring break. Provide funding for travel abroad to first-generation students and those from low-income backgrounds.

Change the academic calendar to complete the fall semester by winter recess, enabling a “January term” that could provide more opportunities to study abroad.

Require all A.B. students to take courses in a foreign language, regardless of previous skill level or native proficiency; one course beyond the introductory level would be required.

Service/Civic Engagement

This task force recommended that service and civic engagement be seen as “a central defining commitment of what it means to be a Princetonian.”

“Service should be viewed as a responsibility that is to be explored from as early as possible in the Princeton experience, that is a fundamentally shared experience, one central to the culture of the place, and one that is expected to be lifelong,” the group said.

Among the recommendations:

Learning why and how to serve should be part of every student’s education — but it would be “counterproductive” to make it mandatory.

Service “should actually have results,” so the University should work to measure what students learn from service and what value their service creates.

All students should be exposed to the meaning and value of service during freshman year; a group of courses called “Learning in Service” would offer reflection and practical experience in civic engagement.

Rising sophomores should take part in summer service internships, and they should be “challenged to declare their service passion at the same time that they declare their major.”

Alumni should play important roles, ranging from mentoring to offering internships and full-time positions.

The Pace Center for Civic Engagement would benefit from a visible central space on campus.