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John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage

The John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities and Cultural Heritage’s ground-breaking MA program, engaged research, and innovative conferences help students, practitioners and communities make the humanities meaningful and accessible.  We are located in the historic home of the Brown family, a landmark building of 1791, whose complex history we continuously engage with. We offer a rich array of guest lectures and events during the semester that brings different publics together. We collaborate on cutting edge, scholarly and research projects developed with other departments and centers at Brown and with local, national, and international cultural, arts, and educational institutions. Our affiliated departments are American Studies, Anthropology, Archaeology, HistoryHistory of Art and Architecture, and Theatre Arts and Performance Studies.  

The Center for Public Humanities at Brown defines Public Humanities through our teaching and events, our collaborative projects, and our analog and digital publications that connect individuals and communities to art, history, and culture. The Center offers innovative hands-on projects and educational programs, including professional development workshops and a Masters degree program, that help practitioners, students, and scholars who want to better understand and contribute to a vibrant culture.

The A.M. Program in Public Humanities

The Center for Public Humanities administers the master's program in Public Humanities, its degree is granted by the department of American Studies

The program has become increasingly international, with partnerships abroad and students from around the world. An annual class trip offers comparisons to the practice of Public Humanities in different contexts. This program offers a dynamic interdisciplinary opportunity for students interested in careers in museums, historical societies, cultural planning agencies, heritage tourism, historic preservation, universities, and community arts programs. We suggest considering courses within the framework of three tracks: Museum Studies, Cultural Management, and Historic Preservation and Heritage.

For more information regarding admission and program requirements please visit:

Public Humanities Courses

The Center lists courses under the Public Humanities rubric: PHUM.   Our flexible program draws on Brown University's open curriculum.  Elective courses can be selected from approved 1000 and 2000 level courses offered at Brown or RISD.  The disciplinary field or departments are not limited to Public Humanities course offerings sponsored by the Center for Public Humanities, list as follows:

PHUM 1510  Museum Collecting and Collections (formerly AMST 1510)
PHUM 1903  Shrine, House or Home: Rethinking the House Museum Paradigm (formerly AMST 1903Z
PHUM 1904 Power + Water: Material Culture and its Environmental Impact
PHUM 2010 Introduction to Public Humanities *required for the A.M.
PHUM 2014 Museum Interpretation Practices
PHUM 2015 Public Art: History, Theory, and Practice
PHUM 2016  Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship in the Commons (formerly AMST 2684)
PHUM 2020 Methods in Public Humanities *required for the A.M.
PHUM 2021  Public Amnesias and Their Discontents: Theories and Practices of Remembering and Forgetting (formerly AMST 2630)
PHUM 2022 Public in Persons: Along Humanities’ Ethical Edges
PHUM 2025 Semester Practicum in Public Humanities *required for the A.M.
PHUM 2004  Critical Approaches to Preservation and Cultural Heritage (formerly AMST 2685)
PHUM 2031   Management of Cultural Institutions (formerly AMST 2690)
PHUM 2060 Projects in Public Humanities
PHUM 2065 Independent Reading and Research in Public Humanities

Public Humanities Faculty

The Center’s core faculty are Dietrich Neumann (Director and Professor of History of Art and Architecture), Steve Lubar (Faculty Director of the Center for Digital Scholarship, Professor of American Studies and History), Marisa Brown (Assistant Director & Lecturer in Public Humanities), and Ron Potvin (Assistant Director & Lecturer in Public Humanities). For the 2022-2023 academic year we anticipate courses by the following visiting faculty: Sarah Ganz Blythe (Deputy Director of the RISD Museum), Diane O’Donoghue (Director of the Public Humanities Program at Tufts University), Nico Wheadon (Arts Advisor,Curator), and Janet Zweig (Artist). Visit our website for the up to date visiting faculty listing.

For more information on the John Nicholas Brown Center for Public Humanities & Cultural Heritage, our current courses, faculty, events, exhibits, and initiatives, please visit our website