Aiding the Scholarly Journey: Using the Humanities to Change the Culture

Sponsored by Modern Language Association

Recorded on 05/26/2021
Posted in The Authority File

Episode 193

Paula Krebs, Executive Director of the Modern Language Association, is sick of having to defend the Humanities. Though Paula agrees that a public relations issue exists, she argues that the existing culture—whether in the form of political attacks, budget cuts, or even parents urging students to pursue other majors—needs to transform. “I get really tired of the rhetoric of crisis around the Humanities … The Humanities are the framework through which we examine and we critique and we try to change the culture—the culture is what’s in crisis.”

In this final episode, Paula asserts that the Humanities are at the forefront of our most pressing societal issues—the pandemic, white supremacy, and immigration, to name a few. Paula also explains how the MLA supports social and racial justice through conferences, shared resources, and vigorous engagement with the academic community.

About the guest:

Paula Krebs headshot

Paula M. Krebs
Executive Director
Modern Language Association

Paula M. Krebs became executive director of the Modern Language Association in August 2017. She administers the programs, governance, and business affairs of the association and is general editor of the association’s publishing and research programs, as well as editor of two association publications. She serves as an ex officio member of all committees and commissions of the association, chairs the committee that oversees the planning of the association’s annual convention, works with the MLA’s trustees in evaluating and implementing investments of the MLA’s endowment funds, and chairs the staff Finance Committee.

Krebs previously served as the dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at Bridgewater State University, where she worked closely with the college’s faculty members on strategic planning and increased connections between the campus and the community. She organized a regional consortium of employers, public humanities representatives, and higher education leaders to develop strategies for defining and measuring the postgraduation success of humanities majors. Before arriving at Bridgewater State, she was special assistant to the president for external relations at Wheaton College in Massachusetts, an American Council on Education (ACE) Fellow in the president’s office of the University of Massachusetts, and a professor and department chair at Wheaton. She has also been a regular contributor to higher education publications, including the Chronicle of Higher Education’s blog Vitae.

A member of the MLA Executive Council from 2013 to January 2017, Krebs also served on the executive committee of the MLA’s Association of Departments of English (2003–05). She served on the Massachusetts ACE Women’s Network Board of Directors and was a member of the Rhode Island Council for the Humanities Board of Directors from 2009 to 2015.

Krebs earned a PhD in English from Indiana University, where she specialized in Victorian literature and culture, and a BA from La Salle College (now La Salle University).

Enjoy the conversation? Listen to the rest of the series:

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