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Be part of the conversation at the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival

Thu, Feb 23, 2023

Written by: Andy Sharfman

A single conversation has the power to change the way we think about the world and the experiences of those in it. 

Imagine, then, what could be gained by taking part in several eye-opening conversations at the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival presented by Citizens–a co-production of the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and the Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University. 

Over the course of three days, the Festival will be offering 16 total events that span art, politics, history, an array of cultures and much more. The Festival includes two featured events–The Legacy of Women in Hip Hop on March 24 and An Evening with Ira Glass on March 25 and 14 unique conversations that visitors can access with the Core Conversation Pass.


This festival invites us to ask the important questions that we don’t always have the opportunity to ponder in the shuffle of our daily lives– questions like “What does it mean to be human?” and “Why are things the way they are?”.

The Pittsburgh Humanities Festival not only invites us to ask these questions, it encourages us to apply those questions to our own lives and the world around us. 

As you look at the amazing Core Conversations lineup for this year’s festival, you may wonder how to pick between the offerings. Based on the topics and time of each event, we’ve created two tracks that you can consider taking.

Boaz Frankel, Pittsburgh Steeler, Kevin McMahon, Carol Brown


A Look Back

Perhaps you’re the kind of person who wonders how things came to be. If that’s the case, you might want to start by learning about the history of Pittsburgh through the lens of culture (Leading the Cultural District: CEOs Carol Brown & Kevin McMahon in Conversation); through sports (Immaculate: How the Steelers Saved Pittsburgh); through policing (Making the Pittsburgh Police); or even biology (Pittsburgh’s Secret History of Plants with Boaz Frankel). 

While expanding your local perspective, you can also begin to consider how our larger society functions. To do that, you could attend Star-Spangled Facism? The Extreme Right, Yesterday and Today, which will examine the history and current state of the far right in America. Another talk of interest may be With Liberty & Justice for All, which will investigate the role of language justice in matters of equity. 

You can also take a deeper dive into other cultures at the festival with Roses from the Southwestern Sun, which will explore the immigrant experience, or Alive in Spanish Literature: Flamenco Music & Culture, where you can learn more about how Spanish literature and history intersects with flamenco music. 

Dr. Sheila Liming, Mai Khoi, True T Pittsburgh


A Look Forward

Or, maybe you are interested in thinking about how personal expression is shaping our future. For that, you can start with Hanging Out: The Radical Power of Killing Time which will prompt you to think about the unstructured social activities we choose to participate in. From there, you can be entertained while becoming informed with the Bad Activist: Story, Song, and Spectacle with the "Vietnamese Lady Gaga"-- a multimedia musical performance dramatizing the true story of singer-songwriter/activist, Mai Khoi. You can continue to think about the way we express ourselves by joining The Category is…: A Deep Dive into the World of Vogue & Ballroom, a discussion around the impact of Vogue & Ballroom culture on the world today. 

Finally, you can round out your Festival experience by considering what our future could look like. Mayor Gainey will be leading a conversation with Pittsburgh’s Future Leaders on pressing issues in our communities and Carnegie Mellon University’s Department of English will be exploring how virtual reality can supplement traditional teaching through Shakespeare in Virtual Reality

Be entertained, while entertaining new ideas

After exploring the possibilities for this year’s Festival, we can return to that question: “What does it mean to be human?”

While, at first, that question may seem daunting, you will have a more nuanced answer after attending the Pittsburgh Humanities Festival. And that’s a powerful thing. 


The Pittsburgh Humanites Festival presented by Citizens is a co-production of
The Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and The Humanities Center at Carnegie Mellon University with additional support from The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation

Pittsburgh Cultural Trust and The Humanities Center logos


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