The Dallas Institute of Humanities and Culture is a nonprofit educational organization whose purpose is to enrich and deepen the practical life of the city with the wisdom and imagination of the humanities.

At the Dallas Institute, we are inspired by W.E.B. Dubois’ wisdom about the healing power of the humanities. As Dubois writes in The Souls of Black Folk:

Here, amid a wide desert of caste and proscription, amid the heart-hurting slights and jars and vagaries of a deep race-dislike, lies this green oasis, where hot anger cools, and the bitterness of disappointment is sweetened by the springs and breezes of Parnassus; and here men may lie and listen, and learn of a future fuller than the past, and hear the voice of Time…

Since our founding in 1981, the Dallas Institute has been recognized as precisely this kind of “green oasis” where we work together with our community to realize “a future fuller than the past,” just as Dubois proposes. We seek healing for our city and for our larger world in ongoing public conversations and in biannual conferences entitled “What Makes a City?” At these events — and in all of our programming — we ask continually how we might re-imagine our city and our nation to reflect more truly the soaring, and as-yet-unrealized, founding ideals of our nation.

With DuBois, we at the Dallas Institute believe the humanities liberate people from social, political, mental and spiritual tyranny. The humanities make genuine culture possible. In our programming, the Institute therefore upholds classical liberal values of free speech and free thought for all. We work to sustain an atmosphere of hospitable, reasoned and respectful dialogue. Like Dubois, we take inspiration from classic texts of diverse times and cultures, but we are most immediately interested in the practical life of our city today and how the humanities can leaven life here, for all inhabitants, from all backgrounds.

The Institute’s longstanding work supporting teachers in our Sue Rose Summer Institutes, our attention to urban design and place-making, our recognition of emerging voices (via the Hiett Prize in the Humanities), our annual Martin Luther King, Jr. symposium — all these programs illustrate our commitment to a city life informed by the wisdom and imagination of the humanities understood inclusively and deeply. We find that people from all walks of life joyously describe the Institute as an oasis where members of diverse communities come together for soul nourishment.

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