Minnesota Humanities Center

The Future is Ours to Shape

Posted April 18, 2019

I work at St. Catherine University where I am an Associate Professor of Art History and also one of three mission chairs. At St. Kate’s, our mission is to educate women to lead and influence.

The three mission chairs correspond to the three pillars of our mission: Catholic, women, and liberal arts. I am responsible for cultivating the liberal arts at St. Kate’s by supporting professional development for faculty and staff on this long-standing and evolving curricular model.

The Minnesota Humanities Center is meaningful to me as both an educator and a liberal arts advocate because the Humanities Center catalyzes institutional transformation.

I have several anecdotes I could share, most recently in August, when I participated with eight colleagues from St. Kate’s in Learning from Place: Bdote. Learning from Ramona Kitto Stately and Ethan Neerdaels was as powerful as being present on land sacred to the Dakota people. As a citizen of Minnesota, born and raised in St. Paul, and of settler colonial ancestry, I was ashamed by what I learned – stories that I had not learned in my public education in the 70s and 80s, and had not bothered to learn as an adult.

More importantly, I was empowered to transform that complicity into accountability.

What does accountability look like in the humanities? That’s a question with a future orientation! And it’s a question that the Minnesota Humanities Center courageously and continually asks the peoples of Minnesota.

Through its professional development opportunities—like Learning from Place and Increase Engagement Through Absent Narratives, both of which I’ve sent cohorts from St. Kate’s to participate in—the Humanities Center brings human stories and relationships that create bridges for learning, reflection, and action to the forefront.

The actions that Learning from Place have catalyzed at St. Kate’s are multiple. For example, we’ve begun integrating land acknowledgment in our meetings and public events. We’ve initiated a learning community of past participants in the Bdote trip, to continue the learning and to help the institution hold itself accountable to its own history and the Dakota land it occupies. There is much yet to learn, and we’re grateful that members of the Sisters of St. Joseph— our founding religious congregation—are a central part of this learning community, as well.

I love St. Kate’s. I love what and who she stands for. I am honored to serve her mission and her students.

And— like so many other historically white institutions in Minnesota that are conditioned by the violent legacies and privileges of settler colonialism —St. Kate’s must come to terms with its past and become a more inclusive community of learning if it is to survive and thrive in higher education. So I am deeply grateful to the Minnesota Humanities Center for providing the expertise, the curriculum, and— most especially—the leadership to help catalyze this institutional transformation. The Minnesota Humanities Center recognizes that the future is ours to shape

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Amy K. Hamlin Headshot
By: Amy K. Hamlin

Dr. Amy Hamlin is currently the director of the Evaleen Neufeld Initiative in the Liberal Arts and the Alberta Huber, CSJ, Endowed Chair in the Liberal Arts at St. Catherine University. Working in collaboration with the Mission Chair for Women’s Education and the Mission Chair for Catholic Identity, Hamlin works to cultivate the liberal arts plait of the tripartite mission at the university through faculty-and-staff development. She holds a Ph.D. in art history from the Institute of Fine Arts at New York University and is also associate professor of art history. She teaches across the art history curriculum with an emphasis on women’s studies, critical studies of race and ethnicity, and visual culture. Together with Karen J. Leader, she is the co-founder of Art History That (also known as AHT), a multiplatform advocacy project that aims to curate, crowdsource, and collaborate on the future of art history.