College of Humanities Announces Fearless Inquiries Project

February 4th, 2022

With the support of a $5.4 million gift commitment from alumni Jacquelynn and Bennett Dorrance, the College of Humanities is launching the Fearless Inquiries Project, a strategic set of initiatives designed to make the University of Arizona a leader for vibrant humanities programs.  


The Fearless Inquiries Project is a long-term, flagship effort specifically aimed at catalyzing a national culture that prizes open discussion, independent judgement and the questioning of stubborn assumptions. The multi-faceted project will leverage the gift, which created the Dorrance Endowed Deanship, to “bring the humanities to the forefront of the University of Arizona's life and mission through a continuous and fearless spirit of open inquiry.”


The Fearless Inquiries Project will support new and innovative humanities research, redesigned or new courses centered on fundamental humanities questions, and public events that will present a wide range of ideas and opinions.


“Our mission is to be a national flagship institution in higher education in strengthening and advancing the humanities and become the ‘go-to’ place for how other colleges and universities can learn how to support vibrant humanities departments and schools,” said Dorrance Dean Alain-Philippe Durand.


The project initiatives made possible by the endowment include:

  • The College of Humanities Perspectives Series
  • The Dorrance Dean’s Award for Opening the Canon
  • The Dorrance Dean’s Award for Research & Entrepreneurialism

The College of Humanities Perspectives Series will invite speakers from different perspectives to discuss topics important to the College, University and community. Speakers will present a wide range of ideas and opinions, with audience members encouraged to challenge their own ideas as they consider a variety of other perspectives. The inaugural Perspectives Series will explore the topic of free speech on campus, with a select panel of experts.


The Dorrance Dean’s Award for Research & Entrepreneurialism (DARE) recognizes faculty members in the College of Humanities whose work is groundbreaking, and that dramatically demonstrates new ways of thinking in, through, and with the humanities. The future-focused DARE Program encourages research-oriented initiatives that are fantastic yet achievable.


The inaugural recipient is Dr. Kristy Slominski, Assistant Professor in the Department of Religious Studies and Classics.


The Dorrance Dean’s Award for Opening the Canon recognizes and supports faculty in the College of Humanities who are doing cutting edge curricular (re)design work that incorporates in novel ways texts that have been widely recognized as having enduring value and significance. The new or redesigned courses will engage students and faculty in dialogue about important existential questions through close readings of primary works, and through a variety of interpretive lenses. The “Opening the Canon” courses will grapple with fundamental humanities questions such as: What does it mean to be human?


The inaugural recipients are Dr. Jacqueline Barrios, Assistant Professor of Public and Applied Humanities, and Dr. Anita Huizar-Hernández, Associate Professor in the Department of Spanish and Portuguese.


“We will ensure humanities remain at the core of the curriculum, and apply the essential skills we teach in the humanities across all professions, industries and fields, and to the world at large,” Durand said. “We are guided by the belief that critical thinking, intercultural competence, adaptability, communication, multilingualism, creativity and problem solving are the skills that will prepare graduates in the humanities to be competitive job applicants and also more engaged and productive members of society as they address our global grand challenges and endeavor to make the world a better place.”