As we seek new members to join our network, we want to share with you more of the inner workings of Humanities Commons and how we understand our work as part of a collective movement. Today, our founder, Kathleen Fitzpatrick, tells of how we have come together as a team, united by a shared purpose and shared values. If these resonate with you, we encourage you to consider becoming a Humanities Commons Member.
Since early 2020, Humanities Commons has been working toward a sustainable future. Key to that future is the generous support we’ve received from the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Mellon Foundation, and a range of other funders and donors, that has allowed us to build a flourishing team to support the network. But building that team has not been solely a matter of searches and onboarding; we’ve also put a lot of collective labor into ensuring that we’re working together in the most generative ways possible.
We began that work late last August by bringing our all-remote team (minus a few of our more recently hired colleagues) together in Lansing for a two-day retreat. Over the course of those two days, we began the process of getting to know one another, laying the groundwork for the ways we’d work together, and thinking as expansively as possible about our goals and expectations. We all left energized, if a bit daunted by how much work we had mapped out for ourselves and how vast the possibilities seemed. All of us took heart, though, in a sentence that Zoe Wake Hyde (our community development manager) shared with us: “We can’t do everything, but we can do anything!”
Figuring out which things would comprise our *anything* required a lot of collective thinking. During the retreat, we undertook a modified version of the HuMetricsHSS values framework exercise, starting to articulate what most matters to each of us in the work we do. We also began the process of developing a framework for the Commons’ purpose and goals, enabling us to shape our work around the vision of transformation in collective knowledge production that we hope to effect.
But the retreat was only the start. Over the next several months, the team met for regular working sessions — twice a week, at first — to continue thinking together about who and how we wanted to be. Each of our working sessions was facilitated by a different member of the team, often using a Miro board to ensure that everyone’s thoughts were captured. By late 2022, we had collectively developed a statement of purpose and a statement of values for the network, which we circulated to our governing council and to our user advisory group for feedback.
Today, as part of our sustaining membership campaign, we’re posting these statements publicly, and we invite your thoughts about them.
Our purpose is to cultivate open spaces for diverse communities to connect, create, share, and experiment. Together we work to transform global knowledge systems.
The values that guide our work are: Experimenting, Cultivating Community, Nurturing Trust, and Supporting Open Exchange of Knowledge
For a more in depth look, read our full statement of purpose and our full values statement, and we invite you to share feedback by commenting on this post or tagging @firstname.lastname@example.org on Mastodon.
These statements undergird our work as a team, but also our work with the Commons community. In the weeks ahead, as we bring more members into the community of organizations and institutions supporting our work, we’ll share more about how we plan to support that community, how we hope to facilitate self-governance within it, and more.
It’s been a long process leading to this point, but given that our goal is nothing short of transforming our global knowledge system, taking time for reflection, response, and revision is crucial. We very much look forward to hearing from you, and to thinking with you as we move into our next phase of development.