An initiative to increase Indiana’s connection to the rest of the world.
Indiana Humanities’ international awareness initiative was part of a decade-long effort to promote public awareness of Indiana’s ties to the rest of the world and to raise the level of public discussion about international issues. This effort originated with the organization’s convening of a statewide International Issues Task Force (IITF) in December 1990. Funded by Lilly Endowment, Inc., IITF examined key questions concerning Indiana’s capacity to respond to the challenges of a new international era, which was marked by increasing global interdependence.
Findings from IITF’s published report in January 1992 inspired several new projects at Indiana Humanities. The best-known was a multiyear series of international awareness programs about Mexico, Asia and Germany. For each location, Indiana Humanities developed or selected a variety of materials (e.g., book discussions, exhibits, public meetings, teacher resource guides, websites, etc.) about the art, history and culture of these places along with Hoosiers’ connection to them.
Cities and towns across the state received grants from Indiana Humanities to conduct these programs, including Bloomington, Columbus, Evansville, Fort Wayne, Gary, Indianapolis, Lafayette, Muncie, South Bend and Terre Haute. Along with the resources provided by the council, participating communities were able to develop additional content tailored to their specific interests (e.g., conferences, festivals, film series, public performances, etc.). In many cases, this development was overseen by local steering committees comprised of museums, libraries, schools and other cultural organizations.
The international awareness initiative also included a separate set of grants for nonprofits to develop programming with an international focus, an annual Internationalizing Curriculum conference for educators to get ideas for teaching about various countries, and cultures, and the Indiana International Forum—a cooperative effort to make Indiana’s international future part of the Hoosier agenda. All of these projects were overseen by Indiana Humanities’ International Affairs and Programs team, who viewed inclusivity and respect as important values in moving the state vforward into the 21st century and beyond.