In 1997 I was asked to organize humanities outreach activities at the University of California, Irvine. The result was the formation of Humanities Out There (HOT). In our workshops, faculty members and graduate students supervise teams of undergraduates in order to take the methods and materials of the university into the larger community.
I believe that programs like these will become increasingly important in the next century, as economic, cultural, and educational divisions deepen in the wake of the demise of affirmative action and as the humanities fight to define their missions in a world driven by technology and its discontents. In this brave new world, what I call the new outreach may have a role to play in responding to social crises as they are visited on the life of the university. The new outreach will be driven by intellectual content, not public relations.
It will take its orientation from the faculty rather than administrators. It will engage all the research disciplines rather than remain the purview of education departments. It will be integrated into the professional lives of its participants rather than rely on the spirit of volunteerism alone.