Humanities Commons and the Cultivation of Sustainable Communities

Written by: Christopher Long

Primary Source: Christopher P. Long, November 29, 2017

As we navigate the intense period of transformation in human communication through which we are living, identifying ways to nurture sustainable communities through which scholarship can be shared, discovered, and enhanced gains urgency. So many of the platforms through which we might cultivate scholarly lives together — FacebookTwitter, Google, — are compromised by business models designed to maximize profit rather than advance scholarship.

When the Humanities Commons opened to the public a year ago, I was an early adopter and strong advocate. My work has long been focused on attempts to create vibrant communities of scholarly practice that nurture transformative scholarship. Whether through pedagogical practices that empower students to bring their voices to the public or through a podcast that practices the excellences of dialogue in a digital age, my own teaching and research have been enriched by exposure to and engagement with a broader community of people interested in and committed to the work.

Creating and sustaining communities that advance the ideas of a wide diversity of scholars, both within the academyand more broadly among the public, require us to support nonprofit sites of community gathering that embody the core values of equity, inclusion, openness, and preservation. The Humanities Commons has emerged as just such a gathering site. Its mission is to nurture scholarly communities by serving the needs of scholars as we engage in research and pedagogy that enriches a broader public.

When I first joined Humanities Commons a year ago, I quickly set up a profile, uploaded my work to the CORE repository, and joined groups in research areas to which I am committed, including those associated with two initiatives that are themselves designed to enhance the quality and scope of scholarship, the Public Philosophy Journaland HuMetricsHSS. Even so, however, I myself have not yet fully integrated the Humanities Commons into the workflow of my scholarly life. Yet, if this community is to become a genuine and sustainable space for conversation that enriches and advances scholarship, it will need to be nurtured by our best work, our ethical imagination, and our sustained attention.

This scholarly commons will only be as rich and textured as we, collectively, put it into practice.

So in celebrating this first year of the Humanities Commons, let us reaffirm our commitment to enliven this common place with the generosity of spirit and deliberate diligence that has long sustained and deepened the scholarship to which so many of us have dedicated our lives.

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Christopher P. Long is dean of the College of Arts and Letters at Michigan State University. His extensive publications in Ancient Greek and Contemporary Continental Philosophy include three books: The Ethics of Ontology: Rethinking an Aristotelian Legacy (SUNY 2004), Aristotle On the Nature of Truth (Cambridge 2010), and an enhanced digital book entitled, Socratic and Platonic Political Philosophy: Practicing a Politics of Reading (Cambridge 2014). The digital platform of the enhanced digital book enables readers to engage directly with the author in an online community. He is also co-founder of the Public Philosophy Journal, a project that has received over $780,000 of funding from the Mellon Foundation to create an innovative online space of digital scholarship and communication. To learn more about his administrative approach and his recent research in Philosophy, digital scholarly communication, and the educational use of social media technologies, visit his blog: He is the host of the Digital Dialogue podcast ( and can be reached on Twitter @cplong and @deancplong.