UW-Madison's Center for the Humanities annual Public Humanities Conference demonstrates that the humanities have never been strictly confined to classrooms. The conference gathers scholars, community partners, and students at and around UW-Madison for a day that is dedicated to discussing the importance of literary, visual, and cultural engagement to the practice of public life. Drawing on the principles of the Wisconsin Idea, this conference seeks to promote public engagement as integral to higher education. Each year, we feature a keynote speaker who provides new ways to reconfigure the boundaries of the university and the public. Recent keynotes include Jody Lewen, of the San Quentin Prison University Project, Michael Bérubé, the current President of the Modern Language Association, and Julie Ellison, Founding Director of Imagining America.
In 2014-2015, instead of a day-long conference the Center is offering a new Public Humanities Seminar Series to host ongoing conversations about public engagement and new possibilities for today's humanities PhD.