HRI Mission

The Humanities Research Institute at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was established in 1997 to promote interdisciplinary study in the humanities, arts, and social sciences. 


Shaping the Future of Humanities Research

At HRI, we believe humanities research is indispensable to every aspect of campus intellectual and social life. We cultivate disciplinary depth and rigor in the traditional humanities disciplines, supporting thoughtful and innovative scholarly inquiry. We also convene partners in the sciences, the arts and the communities we live in, seeking interdisciplinary collaboration where it’s warranted.

We push the boundaries of what’s imaginable and we question the questions themselves. We engage with audiences beyond the academy in order to test the limits and possibilities of what we do in the public square. And we are dynamic: we are not simply responding to the present but trying to shape it — and to anticipate the future as well.

That future is on the table as never before. As a community of scholars, we are not exempt from histories of racial injustice and structural inequities past or present. Our commitment is to promoting anti-racist work and scholars of color, to sponsoring unsettling conversations, to embracing self-critique, to advocating for intersectional approaches to equity and difference, and to working collaboratively for short- and long-term change.

We invite you to experience the vibrancy of humanities work in the world. Come see us in action.

The Humanities at Illinois

Humanities scholarship offers models of flourishing through deep study, thoughtful collaboration and critical inquiry. Though embedded in the contemporary present, work in the humanities pushes us beyond the most immediate horizon — whether into the past or into questions that bear on how we think and do and imagine now. Conversation is our laboratory and debate is our experimental method. And we recognize the porous boundary between the academy and the world.

Learning through humanities research and teaching trains students to appreciate plurality and difference and to query what looks familiar as well as what seems strange. Whether in the archive, in the classroom or on the Quad, humanities work is fully engaged in, and unsettling to, the here and now. And when such work points to futures that are unimaginable, it shows the power and relevance of the kinds of knowledge that the humanities make possible for all the audiences we are in dialogue with.