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About Us

The Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research strives to be an engine for producing interdisciplinary research in the humanities; a community for faculty, students, and the public; and a model of democratic education fit for our Land Grant University.

Founded in 2013, the humanities institute promotes, supports, and showcases humanities scholarship across the university, the state, and the world. In addition to sponsoring invited speakers, events, discussion groups, the institute supports the individual and collaborative research projects of University of Wyoming faculty, students, and staff. The centerpiece of our research support for UW faculty is the Humanities Research Group fellowship program.

The humanities are the laboratory of democracy, where people learn about ethics, empathy, perspective, context, and critical, creative, and analytical thinking, as well as understanding how the history of race, class, and gender have shaped our systems and institutions. We stand for the values of free speech and academic freedom both at the University of Wyoming and for the people in the state whom we serve. Our research, teaching, and public engagement--in diverse disciplines such as anthropology, art history, cultural studies, environmental studies, geography, history, languages, law, literature, philosophy, political science, rhetoric, and more--speak to the diversity and equality that all human beings possess.

For those reasons, the humanities institute is the home of the Democracy Laboratory, which seeks to empower students, faculty, and the public using interdisciplinary humanities methods in order to connect our communities and to strengthen the quality of our democracy. The Democracy Lab is a dynamic, interdisciplinary, intergenerational space devoted to one of the most grandest challenges we face: how to make liberty and justice for all a fact of life rather than a distant dream.

The humanities have always been a central part of the Land Grant University mission, and continue to be a vital part of that mission in the 21st century. As the only Land Grant University in the state, the University of Wyoming’s mission is to “honor our heritage as the state’s flagship and Land Grant University by providing accessible and affordable higher education of the highest quality; rigorous scholarship; the communication and application of knowledge; economic and community development; and responsible stewardship of our cultural, historical and natural resources.”  

Vision and Structure

Join Us: We invite faculty and professional staff colleagues, community partners, and members of the public in Wyoming and the West to join us in this ongoing exploration of the humanities.  Sign up to receive notifications of upcoming events and become a supporter of the Institute.

2021-22 Steering Committee

Scott Henkel | PI, Director of the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research and Associate Professor of English and African American Diaspora Studies

Fredrick Douglass Dixon | Assistant Professor, African American Diaspora Studies

Jennifer Harmon | Associate Professor, Design, Merchandising and Textile Program

Bethann Garramon Merkle | Director, Wyoming Science Communication Initiative
Professor of Practice, Department of Zoology & Physiology and Director of Research Impacts Assessment, UW Biodiversity Institute

Sarah-Anne Leverette | Intern

Nancy Small | Assistant Professor, English Department

Stephanie Stull | Project Coordinator, Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research

Dr. Scott Henkel, Director of the Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research presents “The Humanities and the Land Grant University Mission from the 19th to the 21st Century.” In this public presentation, he explores the history and future of land-grant universities.

“Since their founding in the 19th century, land-grant universities have been among the primary institutions designed to engage the public in the broadest range of humanistic, scientific and cultural education. They were first imagined amid the Civil War and Reconstruction, as part of the effort, in W.E.B. DuBois’s words, to seize ‘the opportunity for a real and new democracy in America’; they were then built to serve the needs of people whose potential had yet to be fulfilled."

Humanities Community: WIHR is a member of the Consortium of Humanities Centers and Institutes ( The Consortium currently has a membership of 154 organizations in the US, Europe, Asia, and Pacific Rim.

We participate in the National Humanities Alliance (, an advocacy coalition dedicated to the advancement of humanities education, research, preservation, and public programs.

Contact Us

Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research

Dr. Scott Henkel, Director

The Cooper House

1000 East University Avenue

Department 4036

Laramie, WY 82071


Wyoming Institute for Humanities Research
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