2016 & 2017 Programs

Humanities and the Sunshine State

Florida Water Stories: June 11-17 2017

(Re)Discovering Florida’s Waters: June 12-18 2016

What good is knowledge if it can’t be communicated to others? How can stories change the world? Through an introduction to how various humanities disciplines study water, the 2016 and 2017 Humanities and the Sunshine State programs explored topics such as tourism, food justice, aquifer sustainability, industrial growth, and race relations; and how these topics relate to water stories. We engaged in archival study, oral history, digital curation, hands-on field trips, ethical critique, textual interpretation, and lectures from some of the top professors in Florida.   We explored how water has shaped the past and present of Florida, and how our interactions with water today will shape the future of our state. Students learned what the humanities do, how the lessons they generate build an informed citizenry, and how to tell stories that can make an impact in the global community.

2016 and 2017 Group Photos:

What our 2016 and 2017 students are saying about Humanities and the Sunshine State:

  • “This seminar taught me a lot about myself and the world I live in. I…learned to think critically through the humanities.”
  • “I always wanted to apply [to UF] for science, but now I’m considering humanities.”
  • “I was completely inspired to be the change I want to see in the world.”
  • “[Humanities] teaches us about how our ancestors lived and how we should approach future problems to preserve their history.”
  • “My experience…made me less afraid of living in a dorm and having a roommate.”
  • “[Humanities and the Sunshine State] helped me understand the learning style expected at a university.”
  • “Our generation is the one that possesses the power to create change.”
  • “It solidified my plans to attend UF.”

You can find the 2017 schedule brochure here: HSSStudentsSchedule2017, and the 2016 schedule brochure here: HSSStudentsSchedule2016.


Monday: Florida Water Sources

  • Visited the UF George A. Smathers Libraries Special and Area Studies Collection to view and discuss original documents such as hand-written manuscripts from Zora Neale Hurston and Suwanee River songs. Handled archival manuscripts, learn how to use them in research, and wrote a letter.
  • Explored digital archives and digital tools for humanities research at the Scott Nygren Scholars Studio.
  • Learned how to study living history interviews for the preservation of cultural experiences and personal histories with a UF Oral Historian. Learned about the important contributions being made by oral history in documenting marginalized voices and practiced conducting an oral interview.

“Digital humanities influenced me the most because it provided me with a plethora of research outlets.”                  -2016 HSS Student


Tuesday: Florida’s Fresh Waters

  • Canoed down the Santa Fe River to Blue Springs and learned about the history of Florida waterways and Florida springs; we discussed how Florida springs have been used and described as sacred spaces, and the future of fragile fresh water ecosystems.
  • Visited the Matheson Museum in downtown Gainesville to see a student co-curated exhibit on the St. Johns River called “River of Dreams: The St. Johns and Its Springs”
  • Dinner at Reggae Shack, a local Gainesville favorite.

“The springs helped bring the lectures to life.” -2016 HSS Student


Wednesday: Florida Water Ethics

  • Visited UF Field and Fork Gardens on the UF campus to learn about sustainable farming practices and water conservation
  • Discussed agricultural labor in Florida and migrant justice with a UF Anthropologist.
  • Engaged in a discussion on sustainability ethics with a UF Philosophy professor.
  • Attended a presentation on Ancient Rome, aqueducts, and the impact of culture on shaping water use with a UF Classics professor.
  • Prepared for Thursday’s activities with a session on the oral histories of the Rosewood massacre.

“The lecture about migrant workers and immigration came close to home given the fact that my father is a Mexican immigrant and it made me think about how immigrants are [treated in this country].” -2016 HSS Student


Thursday: Florida’s Salt Waters

  • Visited Cedar Key Shell Mound to unearth clues about Native American life as much as seven thousand years ago with a UF Archaeology professor.
  • Reflected upon the events of the January 1923 Rosewood Massacre with a Santa Fe College retired faculty member and community historian, and a UCF Anthropologist.
  • Enjoyed a “soul food dinner” at a local church in Chiefland, Florida.

“Rosewood… gave me a larger sense of how much history I didn’t know, and I know a lot! The Rosewood experience has really influenced me to look into more historical events that I never knew existed, especially in Florida.” -2016 HSS Student

“[Rosewood] really shook me and widened my eyes to racial tensions.” -2017 HSS Student


Friday: Telling Water Stories

  • Learned about the relationship between water, climate, and literature with a session on contemporary climate fiction with a UF English Professor.
  • Reflected on how to interpret art and complete a self-directed art activity at the Harn Museum of Art.
  • Lunch at the Harn Museum’s Camelia Court Café.
  • Worked in groups to finalize group final projects that tell a specific Florida water story.
  • Celebrated the end of a busy week with a pool party at UF’s Graham Pool and catered BBQ dinner.


Saturday: Closing Banquet

  • Closing discussion with co-leaders.
  • Admissions panel and Q&A session with UF Humanities, Pre-Health, and Pre-Law advisors.
  • Lunch with parents and instructors, featuring group presentations of capstone project.


This program is sponsored by a generous grant from the Florida Humanities Council (through a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities) with additional funding from the Rothman Endowment of the Center for the Humanities and the Public Sphere and the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Florida.