Colby’s Center for the Arts and Humanities celebrates the pivotal role of the arts and humanities in the intellectual life of the College and the community, and it promotes the long-term benefits of the skills developed through humanistic research. Unique among its college peers, the center partners with, focuses on, and empowers students to find meaning in their lives, to creatively engage with the world, and to chart a new course inspired by transformative experiences. By exploring the arts and humanities, students develop capacities for analytical thought; the ability to read, write, and speak with critical rigor; imagination, aesthetic senses, and talents in creative expression; readiness to live in, contribute to, and learn from a diverse society; comprehension of moral, ethical, and spiritual questions; and a sense of responsibility as citizens of local, national, and global communities.

Initiatives of the center include

  • Annual Theme: Each year a campus-wide, interdisciplinary theme animates our community by exploring a particular topic through exhibits, speakers, performances, and course work.
  • Humanities Labs: Courses in arts and humanities build in experiential learning through observation, hands-on experimentation, and skill-building practices.
  • Events: Inspirational speakers, performances, screenings, and programming enliven the campus and foster a vibrant cultural community.
  • Student Grants: The center offers research grants to fund the most ambitious and brightest students, supporting arts and humanities research projects almost anywhere in the world. We also offer Big Ideas Grants, which provide students the seed money to pursue an innovative project, idea, or event related to their creative and intellectual pursuits in the humanities and humanistic disciplines.
  • Summer Internships in the Arts: Through paid internships at cultural institutions in the Waterville area, the center offers opportunities for students to gain professional experience while learning about arts administration and marketing, arts and economic development, arts and culture education, and festival management.
  • Environmental Humanities: The center runs a range of programs, including a world-class Summer Institute in the Environmental Humanities, a faculty seminar, and an environmental magazine. The EH Initiative encourages students and faculty alike to bring the power of the arts and humanities to bear on the most pressing environmental issues of our time.
  • Public Humanistic Inquiry Lab (PHIL): A PHIL offers space for a three-year, multidisciplinary inquiry where a research group confronts questions and problems of crucial civic importance. It is an incubator of collaborative research located at the intersections between disciplines within the humanities, the social and natural sciences, and between the academy and our community partners. The inaugural PHIL, “Critical Medical Humanities: Perspectives on the Intersection of Race and Medicine,” runs from 2021-2024 and explores the relationship between medicine and race.