Uncertainty. If the CHA chose annual themes, this may be the one that seems most apt for the times we’re living in. Like all of you, I had high hopes that Fall 2021 would see us fully vaccinated with COVID-19 receding in the background of our memories. Instead, the reality is that COVID-19 may be more like the seasonal flu—something for us to learn to live with and to arm ourselves against. Of course I’m not the kind of doctor that should be giving out medical advice or public health best practices. As I’ve joked with friends, the only kind of emergency I can help solve is how to fix a comma splice.
Yet narrative plays a key role in our pandemic lives in so many ways. The narrative of vaccine efficacy and the misinformation surrounding vaccines and masking. And here’s where the Center for Humanities & the Arts can play a role: we know about narratives. How we tell stories—the various forms in visual art, music, film, poetry, prose, and scholarship—shapes public discourse and public policies. Narrative is knowledge: who tells stories to whom, how those stories are shared, and what people take away from those stories is vital for us to discern knowledge we can trust. Not an easy task.
I’m starting my third year as CHA director and have only spent 6 months working on campus. I know there are others who have only ever met colleagues through Zoom since their jobs at CU Boulder started in the midst of the pandemic. Uncertainty for the academic year ahead means I’m not sure how many events we will be doing live and on campus. But one thing that I’m sure about is that the CHA will always strive to fulfill our mission of promoting and supporting the CU Boulder community in arts and humanities.
Director, Center for Humanities & the Arts
Professor, Ethnic Studies