September 1, 2015
Author: Molly Berger
I have been privileged over the last year to be involved in creating and now directing the Cleveland Humanities Collaborative. One of the things that has been most gratifying is being surrounded by and engaged in profoundly interesting conversations with people who love, appreciate, and advocate enthusiastically for humanistic study. I am a historian by training. My field is the nineteenth-century cultural history of American technology – a mouthful to be sure. But, I am fascinated by the transformation the country underwent over that century and how the introduction of both large-scale technological systems and small widespread inventions changed American lives both for better and worse. Time and again my understanding of that distant time has helped me think about our current issues with technology and how we continually face new questions about the value and challenges of new systems and things.
While I love being a historian – and in fact, I love when people ask me what I do and I get to say “I’m a historian” – I spend most of my time working as Associate Dean in the College of Arts and Sciences. Being an administrator at a research university is not something I ever imagined I would be doing. And that’s the point I’d like to make. One of the things we like to say (we being the great folks I work with on this project) is that a career in the humanities prepares you to do just about anything. Did I ever imagine that I would have the job I have now? I hardly knew what a dean was and had absolutely no idea what one did. My first assignment when I began work in the dean’s office was to “do something” with the university’s summer academic session. Taking summer courses was the only experience I brought with me, but the skills I learned in research, writing, organization, and analysis prepared me to think about the problem and find ways to solve it. Of all things, studying the humanities teaches you how to learn, think, and bring a healthy sense of inquiry to the world around you.
Please join us at events, in advocating for the humanities, in learning new things as we recruit Tri-C’s talented students to study the humanities at Case Western Reserve University. Our faculty and students are enthusiastic about what they do and we are looking forward to welcoming Tri-C graduates into our community. If you’d like to share your story, please email me or our program manager, Allison Morgan. We’d love to hear how your background in the humanities brought you to where you are today and how you can be a role model for students studying the things they love!
Molly Berger, Former Director, Cleveland Humanities Collaborative
Associate Dean, College of Arts and Sciences and Instructor of History Emerita
Case Western Reserve University