Unearthed is a new multiyear thematic initiative from Indiana Humanities that encourages Hoosiers to discover and discuss their relationships with the natural world. Through engaging speakers, a statewide read, a tour of the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit, Campfires treks, a film series, a podcast and more, Hoosiers will explore how we shape the environment and how the environment shapes us.

As we did with themes in the past (such as INseparable, Quantum Leap and Food for Thought), we’ll dig into a range of humanities subjects—ethics, philosophy, history, literature and religion. We’ll provide our own ideas for programming (and often the funding to make it happen in your community), and we’ll work with organizations around the state to create even more engaging events and activities.

Together, we’ll use the humanities to better understand our actions and interactions. We’ll consider what our state’s environmental history might reveal about its landscape and its people today. We’ll get comfortable with the idea of living in the Anthropocene. And we’ll ask questions like, “Are we being good ancestors?”

We think there will be something for everyone along the way—whether your idea of a good time is going for a long walk in the woods or sitting down with a book.

Curious to hear more about the programs included in Unearthed? Watch this informational webinar.

Program Highlights


Dig deeper

This short new video featuring authors Ross Gay and Scott Russell Sanders helps frame the ideas behind Unearthed and provides a humanities lens to how we shape the environment and how it shapes us.

Watch this video

Why we chose this theme

Senior Program Manager Megan Telligman shares why we chose Unearthed as our next thematic initiative and why the environmental humanities are important for our current moment.

Read the blog

Six Indiana communities selected to host national Smithsonian exhibit about water and our connections to it

Indiana Humanities will provide additional funds and resources to help residents explore their community’s relationship to water.

Read the announcement

Unearthed Novel Conversations Collection

In honor of our Unearthed initiative, we’ve created a book collection for the Novel Conversations lending library.

Check it out

Program Details

Environmental Humanities Speakers Bureau

About the Speakers Bureau

Do you want to have conversations with your neighbors to explore and contemplate the Anthropocene, Indiana’s environmental history, climate change, environmental racism and other topics related to the Unearthed theme? Indiana Humanities has curated a speakers bureau of talks and workshops by Hoosier scholars and experts. From writing haiku inspired by our natural world to conversations about what it means for Hoosiers to be living on indigenous lands, the speakers provide a variety of points of entry to join the statewide conversation.


Indiana Humanities will sponsor a tour of the Smithsonian’s Water/Ways exhibit during the first year of the Unearthed theme.

Six communities will host the exhibit for six weeks each and will receive extensive training, funding and other resources from the expert staffs of the Smithsonian and Indiana Humanities. Each of the six hosts will also curate a unique section of the exhibit that explores their community’s relationship to water.

As part of the Indiana tour, Water/Ways will visit the following communities during 2021 and 2022.

North Webster Public Library (North Webster): June 26, 2021–August 7, 2021

La Porte County Soil and Water Conservation District / La Porte County Public Library (Rolling Prairie): August 14, 2021–September 26, 2021

University of Southern Indiana/Historic New Harmony (New Harmony): October 2, 2021–November 14, 2021

Riverscape/Wabash River Development and Beautification, Inc. (West Terre Haute): November 20, 2021–December 30, 2021

Jefferson County Public Library (Madison): January 8, 2022–February 20, 2022

Cope Environmental Center (Centerville): February 26, 2022–April 10, 2022


Indiana Humanities has been hosting Campfires across Indiana since 2016 and will continue to invite Hoosiers to explore the connections between literature, nature and the future of Indiana in conjunction with Unearthed.

In 2021, we’ll host four in-person public events and one virtual event. These treks have limited capacity and typically sell out.




How to Survive the Future

How to Survive the Future is a podcast created by Alex Chambers and Allison Quantz in partnership with Indiana Humanities. Currently in development, the podcast will be released in January 2022.

About the Podcast

In How to Survive the Future, we ask everyday people to imagine a world where they have made it through the challenges of the present and faced the pain of the past and then tell us what life is like after that. Farmers, poets, parents, organizers and others imagine how their lives, and the landscapes around them, will be different than they are now—hopefully for the better, though it’s never that simple. From the interviews, we create sound-rich “imaginative documentaries” that explore real stories of the past and possible stories of the future. The stories teach us about history and society, show us struggles personal and political, and offer us a chance to reflect on how the state of the world, fixed and inevitable as it may seem, is always up for grabs.

Alex Chambers, Executive Producer
Alex is a poet, educator and podcast producer in Bloomington, Indiana. He produces the Age of Humans podcast and teaches podcasting at the Indiana University Media School and in community groups. His audio work has aired on WFIU’s Earth Eats and PBS’s American Portrait, and his poems and essays have appeared in Gulf CoastThe Rumpus and elsewhere. He has a PhD in American studies and a book of poems called Binding: A Preparation.

Allison Quantz, Executive Editor
Allison is a radio and podcast producer and consultant living in Bloomington, Indiana. She is senior producer at Virginia Humanities’ radio show and podcast, With Good Reason. She launched The Briefing from SiriusXM in 2015 and produced it until late 2017. In 2018 she helped launch and began producing The Growing Edge podcast with Carrie Newcomer and Parker Palmer. Her work has been heard on BackStory with the American History Guys, WFIU, Virginia Public Radio, Word of Mouth, Distillations and PRX Remix.

Waterways Films

We believe that film, specifically film about Indiana created by Hoosier filmmakers, can open doors to deeper understanding and conversation. To help explore the themes of Unearthed, in 2020 Indiana Humanities put out a call for Indiana-based filmmakers to submit proposals for short films that explore Hoosiers’ relationships to our state’s waterways. We look forward to being able to share the Waterways Films in 2022 with a statewide film tour and virtual release!

Statewide Read

Indiana Humanities’ One State / One Story program invites Hoosiers to engage deeply with a book as part of a statewide conversation tied to the themes of Unearthed. As in previous years, we’ll award grants to host a community read of the One State / One Story selection to organizations around the state.

On August 3, we announced that World of Wonders: In Praise of Fireflies, Whale Sharks, and Other Astonishments by Aimee Nezhukumatathil will be the 2022 One State / One Story Selection.

Explore These Five Guiding Questions

Question #1

How do we shape our environment, and how does our environment shape us?

Question #2

What does Hoosier environmental history reveal about Indiana’s landscape and its people today?

Question #3

How can the humanities help us understand our relationship with the natural world?

Question #4

How does our understanding of nature affect our actions toward the environment?

Question #5

How is environmental change impacting our understanding of humanity’s legacy? Are we being good ancestors?

Learn more

Why we chose this theme

Senior Program Manager Megan Telligman shares why we chose Unearthed as our next thematic initiative and why the environmental humanities are important for our current moment.

Read more


Contact Megan Telligman, Senior Program Manager:
mtelligman@indianahumanities.org | 317.616.9409

Explore our other programs