2015 HSS Program

Humanities in the Sunshine State

Exploring Florida’s Past, Present, and Future

Participants discovered what humanities research teaches us about contemporary Florida life, including cultural diversity and the changing demographic landscape, sustainability and food justice, the health of Florida springs and farms, and the role of institutions and sports in community-building. Participants interacted with expert faculty, librarians, and graduate students from the University of Florida and Santa Fe College to explore how theoretical ideas and methods from the humanities disciplines (history, classics, archaeology, religion, literature, women’s studies, philosophy, and more) shape our practical experiences of Florida, and vice versa.

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Program curriculum is designed to engage highly motivated students in experiential activities that enrich humanities learning with the fun of discovery. Program activities ranged from faculty lectures, to hands-on activities, to exploring natural and cultural resources in the field, to tours of historical and culturally significant landmarks, to dining at local, culturally-rich restaurants. Participants gained a deeper appreciation for the role of humanities research in understanding the changing landscape of Florida from the perspective of cultural, historical, political, environmental, and social developments. Additionally, students were challenged to evaluate, critique, and synthesize the week’s activities in a capstone project presented on the final day to parents and faculty.

For a downloadable schedule of the 2015 week’s activities: 2015 General Schedule

Monday: Preserving Florida’s Past

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  • Visited the UF George A Smathers Libraries Special and Area Studies Collections  where students viewed and discussed original documents from Florida’s history that anticipate the week’s site visits. Students were given the opportunity to handle these historical documents and learn how historians use them in research.
  • Visited the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature to see firsthand how books read by children in Florida have changed in the last century.
  • Interacted with librarians and researchers at UF Digital Collections to learn about New Tools for Humanities Research and received instruction for creating a digital footprint in the capstone project.
  • Watched “The Yearling” (1946) on the UF campus.

Tuesday: Experiencing Florida’s Springs: Past, Present, and Future

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  • Fieldtrip to Silver Glen Springs for a discussion on the role of water in Florida’s past, present, and future; the history of Native American use of the springs; Florida’s tourist industry; and the future of the environment in these fragile ecosystems. The day continued with a canoe trip lead by a certified kayak guide and leader.
  • Visited Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings Historic State Park in Cross Creek, Florida, where The Yearling was written by Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings and the screen adaptation was later filmed.
  • Dinner at Blue Highway Pizza, a well-establish, locally-owed, and community-based restaurant in Micanopy, Florida.

Wednesday: Florida’s Cultural Landscape: Diversity and Disparities

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  • Engaged in a discussion on diversity and ethics with a philosopher.
  • Toured the UF Organic Gardens Cooperative to develop an appreciation for the role of locally grown food in communities, the Slow Food movement in Gainesville (http://www.slowfoodgainesville.org/), and the way in which community gardens cut across cultural and socio-economic divides. After sampling produce on site, lunch was at a locally sourced restaurant in Gainesville, followed by popsicles at the Hyppo.
  • Practiced conducting living history interviews at the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program for the preservation of cultural experiences and personal histories. Student learned about the history of the SPOHP, important contributions being made by oral history in documenting recent history, and how to write, conduct, and record an oral interview.
  • Discussion about Caribbean immigrants to Florida followed by dinner at the Reggae Shack Café in Gainesville.
  • Watched “You Belong to Me” (2014) on the UF campus.

Thursday: Ancient and Modern Inhabitants of Florida

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  • Visited Cedar Key Shell Middens with an archaeologist to unearth clues about life as a native Floridian over the past 7000 years. Shell middens are the collection of human debris (typically kitchen waste) and, along the Florida coast, consist primarily of mollusk shells piled up over millennia. Lunch at a local restaurant will follow.
  • Reflected upon the history of the events of January 1923 in Rosewood through a site visit to the Florida Historical Marker documenting the massacre and the nearby water well were children hidden. Followed escape routes from Rosewood and saw Train #3 during a tour of Gulf Hammock and Otter Creek.
  • Engaged in a historic “soul food dinner” at a church in Chiefland, Florida.

Friday: UF, Florida and the World

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  • Toured the UF campus and the “Swamp” football stadium to learn abouthow modern architecture and communities are shaped by the ancient past.
  • Presented capstone projects to families and faculty during a lunch reception honoring the 2015 Humanities and the Sunshine State participants.



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 Sciencesat the University of Florida.