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News Release.

News Release

New Arts, Design and Humanities Chair announced at the University of Minnesota

Seeks path to utilize the humanities to address global issues

Contacts: Drew Swain, University News Service, (612) 625-8962,

MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (09/25/2009) —A new Arts, Design and Humanities Chair program was announced today by University of Minnesota Provost Thomas Sullivan. The first chair will be held by professor Susan Noakes of the Department of French and Italian for her project, "Globalization of the Middle Ages." The program is part of the University of Minnesota's Imagine Fund.

"At a time of decreasing financial support nationally for the arts, design and humanities, the university underscores its commitment to a broad range of excellence by committing additional resources that reward creativity and innovation," said Sullivan. "I'm delighted to announce professor Noakes as the first chair. The new chair will help her to bring together teams of scholars from around the world, utilize the very latest in technology and leverage future resources for an important and urgent initiative."

The new chair in the Arts, Design and the Humanities will be awarded every year for a two-year period. These chairs are intended to enable professors with a record of distinguished scholarship, teaching and service to conduct a research project that will further their own scholarship, generate curricular innovation and forge intellectual communities in the university or wider community. The chair will provide up to $70,000 over a two-year period.

Noakes's project is innovative and "demonstrates that the humanities and the methods of 21st-century humanities are fundamental to contemporary national and global issues," she said. "Humanists need to lead again, promoting the need for all to be mindful of history and of international cultures."

Her two year project will provide seed funding for a longer range initiative building an international community of problem definers and solvers to develop sophisticated technologies to share knowledge, in some cases through annotated Web-based visualizations of the latest in research. There will be public performances and workshops all in an effort to help in understanding the deep relevance of the Middle Ages to contemporary political and social issues.

"The Middle Ages are far from dusty," said Noakes. "The more we realize about the complex relationship of the United States today to the long great histories of the Middle East, Europe and Asia the more we understand that events of many centuries ago resonate powerfully -- and often politically -- to this very day."

For more on the University of Minnesota's Imagine Fund, visit:

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