Aerial photo of the University of Calgary main campus

Who we are

For over forty years, the Calgary Institute for the Humanities has worked to foster humanities research of the highest order, to encourage interdisciplinary conversations between scholars, and to communicate the results of Humanities research to the greater community. The humanities as traditionally conceived encompass the study of languages, literature, history, philosophy, religion and the arts. At the CIH, we take a broader approach to the humanities, to include all forms of study that illuminate what it means to be human.

Created at the University of Calgary in 1976, the CIH has a proud history of supporting research excellence through three key programs: our annual resident fellowships; our interdisciplinary working groups; and our engagement with the community, including our public lecture series, the Calgary Atlas Project and our Public Humanities program.

Each year the CIH hosts a variety of Research Fellowships: including resident fellows, doctoral and postdoctoral fellows, and visiting fellows. Fellows at the institute are given the time and space to pursue high-calibre research projects, and to share their insights with scholars from different disciplines. Recent fellows have pursued projects on such diverse topics as: medieval church architecture, neural networks in science fiction, cinema of the Algerian war, animation, photography, and Dante’s theory of memory.

Our Interdisciplinary Working Groups bring together scholars from across the university and the province to engage in collaborative research on cross-cutting, innovative topics. Groups have included Energy In Society, Food Studies, Performance and Business Studies, Rethinking Latin American Studies, and Indigenous Prairie Philosophies. Their activities have resulted in visiting speakers, workshops, conferences, exhibitions, and tours, and have provided the foundation for millions of dollars in further research grants.

Since 1981, the CIH has held an Annual Community Seminar to explore timely cultural and social issues. Each year we bring three scholars from diverse fields to explore an issue with the Calgary community in a downtown setting. These dynamic and interactive events have been broadcast by CBC Radio’s Ideas program and published as books, including Calgary: City of Animals; Intertwined Histories: Plants in their Social Contexts and Water Rites. Recent topics have included: "Who Owns Outer Space?"; "The Insect Apocalypse"; "The End of Expertise"; and "Conspiracy Thinking."

The humanities have always been at the heart of the modern university, and they play a key role in our society. The CIH works to support the best of humanities research at the University of Calgary and to bring the results of this research to the communities the university serves. In a rapidly changing world, this is a vitally important function: the humanities help us to understand who we are and where we came from; they help us to understand and respectfully engage with those who are different from us; and they encourage a curiosity and imagination that allow us to bring older ideas to the new worlds in which we find ourselves.

Institute Administration

photograph of Jim Ellis

Dr. Jim Ellis

(403) 220-3928

photograph of Noreen Humble

Dr. Noreen Humble

(403) 220-4560

Portrait of Sean Lindsay by photographer Adrian Shellard

Sean Lindsay

(403) 220-7239

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