Southern Futures is a University-wide initiative growing out of the College of Arts & Sciences and University Libraries.

This initiative encourages fresh dialogue, adds diverse voices, fuels cutting-edge scholarship and creative endeavors, and attracts external thought leaders as well as promising new talent. Working across disciplines and in partnership with archives, museums, laboratories and communities, Carolina can be a resource to advance understanding and partnerships regarding the American South to benefit UNC-Chapel Hill’s campus, the state of North Carolina, and the broader region.

Foundational Goals

Cultivate a rising generation of leaders

A prosperous future for the American South depends on future generations who want to study, live, and lead in communities across the region. We  inspire, educate, and support the next generation of leaders who will contribute to the region’s prosperity. We support undergraduates, graduate students, faculty, decision-makers and thought leaders through scholarships, courses, fellowships, community partnerships, and summits that foster life-changing education, critical thinking, and listening across difference.

Bring storytelling, art, and music to the foreground

Storytelling is a powerful and effective way of connecting with one another. Through stories we share ideas, culture, history and values that unite and inspire us. Whether in a documentary, a play, a podcast or an artistic performance, stories help us express and understand the human condition, shifting attitudes and culture. They are memorable, accessible, and meaningful. By deploying the creative energy of performance, visual art, oral history, literature, and other creative practices, we generate fresh conversations and new knowledge, laying the groundwork for cultural, economic and social revitalization throughout North Carolina and the region.

Gather and share Carolina’s resources

Chapel Hill has a remarkable, multi-disciplinary collection of expertise focused on the South – from its scholarship to its library and archives, museum, UNC Press and its substantial commitment to the arts. The University’s legacy of academic leadership in Southern Studies, including in social science, history, and literature, among many other areas, is of value to all who want to understand and advance the future of the South. Southern Futures builds on Chapel Hill’s resources in a way that is equal to the significance of the task. This work makes these special assets more accessible and impactful: to Southern communities who can use Chapel Hill’s expertise toward the betterment of their communities, and to people around the world who continue to be intensely interested in the South.

Elizabeth Engelhardt

Senior Associate Dean, Fine Arts and Humanities
John Shelton Reed Distinguished Professor of Southern Studies

Malinda Maynor Lowery

Director, Center for the Study of the American South
Professor of History