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Welcome to the IAH Podcast Series, where we profile fascinating people connected to the Institute for the Arts and Humanities at The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. We talk with faculty about the pillars of their work in teaching, service and research. We learn the makings of successful leaders across disciplines. And we share this with you.

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Anna Hayes and Kim Church, Crooks Corner Book Prize

Kim Church

Anna Hayes, founder of the Crooks Corner Book Prize, discusses the local literature scene while author and 2015 Crooks Corner Prize winner Kim Church (pictured) reads from her book Byrd and talks about the writing process. Both were featured on the panel of the Emerging Writers Cafe at the Institute in December 2016.

Season 1 Highlights with Philip Hollingsworth and Melissa Clay


Coordinator for Faculty Programs Philip Hollingsworth and Communications Specialist Melissa Clay discuss their favorite episodes since the beginning of the IAH Podcast Series in November 2015 in this retrospective. “When I think about our podcast, I think about the interesting things we learn about the faculty here at UNC,” says Clay. Academia has these “pillars of teaching, research and service and how do they get all of that done?”

Jina Valentine, Assistant Professor of Art

Jina Valentine

Jina Valentine is concerned with how art can inspire discussion. Black Lunch Table, a collaboration with fellow artists Hong-An Truong and Heather Hart, is a work of social-practice art that provides a discursive space for artists, activists, and community members to discuss critical issues. It began as a social experiment in 2005 with the question “what would happen if we segregated the lunch rooms. We are very interested in the conversations that happen at the lunch table,” said Valentine.

IAH Podcast | Jina Valentine, Assistant Professor of Art

Jina ValentineJina Valentine is concerned with how art can inspire discussion. Valentine, UNC Assistant Professor of Art, discusses The Black Lunch Table, a collaboration with Heather Hart, a fellow artist based in New York.

Black Lunch Table is a work of social-practice art that provides a discursive space for artists, activists, and community members to discuss critical issues. It began as a social experiment in 2005. It began with the question “what would happen if we segregated the lunch rooms. We are very interested in the conversations that happen at the lunch table,” said Valentine.

The Institute for the Arts and Humanities awarded its inaugural Arts and Social Justice Grant to hold a Black Lunch Table event in Spring 2017. Collaborating with Hong-An Truong February through April on the quad.

The BLT event is called All Rise. It combines strategies from two ongoing collaborative projects,The Black Lunch Table  and Hong-An Truong’s And And And Stammering: An Interview (with artist Huong Ngo). All performances will be open to the public and sited outdoors on a temporary structure modeled after a courtroom, and at a set of movable picnic tables.

A lot of her work is very political, especially in the current political climate but also, she says ” in trying to understand my role as a mother of a black son,” says Valentine.

Valentine’s art practice uses art and paper and ink that she has made, working with found objects. “Working with text as found objects,” she says and  I am also very interested in craft techniques.”


Jeannie Loeb, Senior Lecturer, Psychology and Neuroscience

Jeannie Loeb

During her Faculty Fellowship as a Chapman Family Teaching Award recipient, Jeannie Loeb worked on researching education strategies. She hopes to share her findings on best practices for organizing classes, communicating effectively, and keeping the class engaged. Loeb has a special interest in “students who are from populations which are struggling at universities: first-generation college students, transfer students and minority students.”

Christian Lentz, Assistant Professor, Geography

Christian Lentz

“The Faculty Fellowship has continued to immerse me in a scholarly community,” says Christian Lentz, who has been using his time away from teaching to concentrate on his book manuscript. He describes the project as “a story of territory as it is experienced and constructed in the Vietnamese revolution when they were fighting for independence from the French in the 1940s and ’50s.”

John McGowan, Director Emeritus 2006-2014

John McGowan

“I got involved in the IAH almost the day I arrived on campus, said John McGowan. “I got pulled into West House within two weeks. Ruel Tyson had gathered this intellectual community.” McGowan, the John W. and Anna H. Hanes Professor of English and Comparative Literature, and Director Emeritus of the Institute for the Arts and Humanities, is the 2016 recipient of the George H. Johnson Prize for Distinguished Achievement by an IAH Fellow.

Michele Berger, Director, Faculty Fellows Program

“Of course in the Faculty Fellows Program, people are highly productive. They are very excited about having a semester leave,” says Michele Berger. “I take a look at the mix of the Faculty Fellows that we have in terms of faculty rank because that makes a difference in terms of the kinds of projects they may be engaged in.” Berger is Director of the Faculty Fellowship Program. She is also Associate Professor in the Department of Women’s and Gender Studies.

Elizabeth Engelhardt, Professor, American Studies

Faculty Fellow Elizabeth Engelhardt is looking closely at the history and culture of boarding houses in the U.S. South.
“The difference between a boarding house and a hotel, between a boarding house and a brothel… restaurant, kitchen, a cafe, diner, all of those things is incredibly messy,” she says. “In my mind, that’s where the really interesting research questions are.”

Todd Ochoa, Associate Professor, Religious Studies

Todd Ochoa

Todd Ochoa is an anthropologist who focuses on religion. This semester the former New Faculty Program director is teaching Introduction to Religion and Culture to 180 students as well as a graduate course, Religion in Postcolonial Americas. Ochoa explains that religious studies is not the same as theology. Rather than focusing on particular faiths and texts, religious studies examines the people and cultures, the human relationships and dynamics.

Mariska Leunissen, Associate Professor, Philosophy

Mariska Leunissen

Faculty Fellow Mariska Leunissen discusses her unique perspective on the philosophy of Aristotle, especially his foundational text on biology. She provides insight on how we can apply his work to our modern lives by examining his morally reprehensible views in the context of the time. “I don’t want to necessarily better his picture, but I do want to understand where they come from. [Some of them] do seem to be deeply ingrained in Western culture still.”

Andrew Perrin, Professor, Sociology

Andrew Perrin

“Humanities mode of thinking is unique. It really values complexity,” says Andrew Perrin. “It’s a very different way of thinking from STEM scholars and social science scholars.” It is these mechanisms that have compelled Perrin to look at “how scholarship and humanities would contribute to democratic citizenship.” He finished a Faculty Fellowship in Spring 2016, where he researched humanities education and its impact on citizenship.

Mai Nguyen, New Faculty Program Director

Mai Nguyen, Associate Professor in the Department of City and Regional Planning at U.N.C.

City and Regional Planning Associate Professor Mai Nguyen is the New Faculty Program Director at the IAH, effective July 1. She succeeds Associate Professor of Religious Studies Todd Rámon Ochoa, who served in the position for 3 years. “My goal with the new faculty program is to help faculty integrate into the academic life at UNC and to become aware of the many professional and social opportunities available at UNC and in the Triangle Region.”

Michael Gerhardt, UNC School of Law Professor

Michael Gerhardt

Michael Gerhardt called it months ago. The Samuel Ashe Distinguished Professor of Constitutional Law said the Republicans would choose Donald Trump as their nominee and this week Hillary Clinton is expected to accept the Democratic nomination. Gerhardt’s most memorable moments in teaching are linking world events in the classroom. “In law there are always some current issues, we just don’t know what those are going to be.”

James Moeser, Acting IAH Director and Chancellor Emeritus

James Moeser

“The faculty is at the heart of what we are about as a university” James Moeser said. “The administration exists to facilitate the life and work of the faculty and a student’s learning.”  He served as UNC Chancellor from 2000 to 2008. Moeser recalls his first class after administrating for many years was the first-year seminar on music and culture. The fall semester was always the most exciting. Students were “very open and very receptive.”