Wayne State University

Aim Higher

Faculty Fellows Conference

Theme:" The Future of Failure"

At first glance, it might be tempting to think of "Failure" in purely negative terms--it does typically connote a lack or defeat of some kind--but failure can also be the first step to success.From Oprah Winfrey to Henry Ford, many leaders and innovators note the necessity of failure in their own trajectories moving forward. But what does it mean to fail?

For the 2019-2020 Faculty Fellowships Competition, the Humanities Center solicits research proposals that explore the full spectrum of failure, understood in the broadest sense. From the failure of political, economic, or religious groups to how "failure" has been utilized as a buzzword of 21st-centry trendsetters, how might we begin to conceptualize and theorize failure? Research questions might center on the historical legacies of failure, personal failures versus public ones, the subjectivity of failure, or failure as a strategic choice or a source of opportunity. We also encourage proposals that center on ideas related to academic failure:what are the gaps, problems, or dead-ends of particular disciplinary methods or academia more generally? How do we learn from failure, and how is it incorporated into our classrooms and our research? Finally, what are the creative possibilities of failure? How is failure a routine part of scientifi, humanistic,and artistic practice?

Click HERE for the flyer

Click HERE for the Conference Video PlayList


Keynote Speaker - Robert D. Putnam


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Robert D. Putnam

ROBERT D. PUTNAM is the Malkin Research Professor of Public Policy at Harvard University, having retired from active teaching in May 2018. Raised in a small town in Ohio, he was educated at Swarthmore, Oxford, and Yale. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, a Fellow of the British Academy, and past president of the American Political Science Association. In 2006 Putnam received the Skytte Prize, the world’s highest accolade for a political scientist, in 2013 President Barack Obama awarded him the National Humanities Medal, the nation’s highest honor for contributions to the humanities, for “deepening our understanding of community in America,” and in 2018 the International Political Science Association awarded him the Karl Deutsch Award for cross-disciplinary research. He has received eighteen honorary degrees from universities in eight countries, including in 2018, Oxford.

Recent Book: The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again


Keynote Speaker - Shaylyn Romney Garrett


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Shaylyn Romney Garrett

SHAYLYN ROMNEY GARRETT is a writer who has dedicated her life to the pursuit of connection, community, and healing in an increasingly fragmented world. Her work includes the uniquely revealing portraits of religious communities across the United States in American Grace: How Religion Divides and Unites Us. She is a founding contributor to the Aspen Institute’s initiative, Weave: The Social Fabric Project, and writes about her personal journey back to community on her blog, Project Reconnect.

Recent Book: The Upswing: How America Came Together a Century Ago and How We Can Do It Again