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Tuesday, November 01, 2011

Dr. Casey Harison appointed director of Center for Communal Studies

News and Information Article Photo
Dr. Casey Harison
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USI Photo Services
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Wendy Knipe Bredhold
Media Relations Specialist, News & Information Services
Dr. Casey Harison, professor of history, has been appointed director of the Center for Communal Studies at the University of Southern Indiana.

Founded in 1976 by Dr. Donald E. Pitzer, professor emeritus of history, the Center for Communal Studies promotes the study of historic and contemporary communal groups, intentional communities, and utopias. The rich research resources of the center are housed in the David L. Rice Library. The center archives contain primary and secondary materials on more than 100 historic communes and several hundred collective, cooperative, and co-housing communities founded since 1965. Noted communal scholars have donated their private collections and their extensive research notes and papers to the center archives.

The center is of particular interest to those in history, sociology, economics, political science, and modern and classical languages, but available to faculty and students of any discipline. "The Center for Communal Studies is a resource for research for USI faculty and students, as well as outside researchers," Harison said. "We want to encourage that. We also have space in the Liberal Arts Center available as a reference room and for seminars."

Harison plans to bring in speakers and write a grant to fund a student position to create a finding aid for the Harmonist papers in the Communal Studies Collection. He also intends to make international connections with communal studies groups in Europe. "The field is well established in the U.S., but a little less clearly defined elsewhere," he said. "That's one way we can contribute in the future."

He hopes to offer a class on the European origins of Utopian thought in the future.

Harison holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Iowa (1993), master's degree from Louisiana State University (1984), and bachelor's degree from University of New Orleans (1980). He joined USI in 1992 after serving as an adjunct instructor at colleges and universities in Iowa.

Pitzer has served as interim director of the center since spring 2011.

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