Letter from the Director

Submitted by Suzanne St Peter on

Dear Friends,

As I write on this spring morning the sun is shining and there is a feeling of renewal. CHID, which is no stranger to renewal and reinvention, is also entering another moment of change. I want to begin with an update on our journey toward departmentalization. We are very close to achieving our goal of transforming the CHID program into a full department with greater autonomy than ever before. There are still a few bureaucratic hoops to clear, but we are close! We hope to accomplish this goal by the end of this academic year, or very soon thereafter. This transition will be full of exciting possibilities and challenges, but as always CHID is more than up to the task.

One important reason why I am so optimistic about CHID’s future is that Phillip Thurtle has just been appointed as our new director, beginning July 1, 2018. As so many of you know, Phillip is a brilliant historian of science, a beloved teacher (he won the UW’s Distinguished Teaching Award in 2013), and at the center of important interdisciplinary collaborations at UW and beyond. This year Phillip was also promoted to the rank of full professor, an important recognition of his significant contributions to the university, the history of science, and perhaps most significantly, the lives of countless CHID students. 

Moreover, over the past several years CHID has benefited significantly from the support and guidance of our Faculty Board and from the many colleagues from across campus who have sought affiliation with CHID. We would not have been able to get this far in our work toward departmentalization without our affiliate faculty friends and allies. Our colleagues on the Faculty Board (with faculty serving 3-year terms) have met regularly to help us think through the challenges and possibilities of this process. They have lobbied the UW administration on our behalf and sung the praises of CHID near and far. While CHID might appear to be a “small” program in terms of faculty numbers, we are in fact quite an extensive community when we consider the range of faculty formally affiliated with our program. The CHID community has never been so large and vibrant as it is today. CHID affiliate faculty members not only teach classes for us, but they also advise student senior thesis projects, lead study abroad programs, and connect us to many communities.

In order to illustrate the work of our affiliate faculty, I would like to mention quickly the remarkable work of just a few. Scholar and artist Dan Paz, Lecturer in the School of Art, will teach two exciting new classes in CHID next year (in collaboration with Art): Mobility, Visibility, and the Other: Rendering 2D Animation and Voltage: Power and Feminist Photographic Practice. We are especially excited about Dan’s courses as they open up much needed space for our students to engage in critical making, an area in which we hope to continue to grow.

Affiliate faculty Adam Warren along with scholar and artist Monica Rojas-Stewart led the CHID study abroad program, The Politics of Blackness and Indigeneity in Peru. This program advances CHID’s commitment to introduce students to global conversations between art and politics and provides them with additional opportunities to continue to think carefully, critically, and globally about colonial legacies and histories of racial hierarchies and the resilience of Indigenous peoples and the African diaspora. Adam and Monica share some reflections about their program in this article.

As always, our students and alums continue to inspire. In this newsletter, you can read reflections from Che Sehyun and Lorraine Berry and learn more about the incredible work of some of our recent (and not so recent) graduates.

This spring marks a moment of change for the program, and it also marks a change for me, as my term as CHID director ends on June 30. I look forward to passing on some administrative responsibilities to Phillip, though I will remain very much engaged with the future of CHID. I look forward to continuing to work with my colleagues in CHID and across campus. It has been an honor to serve as CHID director and I am grateful for the support that students, faculty, and staff have provided over the last five years.


María Elena García