Christopher McKnight Nichols | Director

Nichols has been director of the Center for the Humanities since January 2017. He specializes in the history of the United States and its relationship to the rest of the world, particularly in the areas of isolationism, internationalism, and globalization. In addition, he is an expert on modern U.S. intellectual, cultural, and political history, with an emphasis on the Gilded Age and Progressive Era (1880-1920) through the present. Nichols also has worked extensively on religion in U.S. history and the intersection of religion and foreign relations. In 2016, he was awarded an Andrew Carnegie Fellowship, and in 2017, he became an Organization of American Historians (OAH) Distinguished Lecturer. This spring, at TEDx Portland, Nichols presented his talk, “The Untold Story of American Isolationism (a.k.a. Why History Matters Today)."    

Nichols studied at Harvard College, Wesleyan University, and the University of Virginia, where he received his M.A. and Ph.D. in History. Before coming to OSU Nichols was Andrew W. Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the History Department at the University of Pennsylvania and Postdoctoral Fellow in U.S. History at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Culture at the University of Virginia.

In 2014, he launched the OSU Citizenship and Crisis Initiative with an emphasis on issues at the intersection of citizenship, crisis, politics, international relations, civics, and engaged democracy, along with the centenary of World War I. Since early 2017 he has served on the editorial board of the “Made by History” section of the Washington Post. He is a Member of the Board of Trustees of the Oregon Historical Society, and is a permanent member of the Council on Foreign Relations.



Joy Jensen | Research Program Coordinator

Jensen joined the Center for the Humanities in 2013. She's responsible for implementing grant programs, organizing events, lectures, and exhibits, and managing communciations, accounting, and Autzen House facilities. Originally from the Commonwealth of Kentucky, she studied at Centre College in Danville, KY, and The Ohio State University in Columbus, OH (MA English–Rhetoric). Interests of note: attending to ecological priorities, birds, and the game of American football. 


In the stack: 
The Shorebird Guide (O’Brien, Crossley, and Karlson)
Whiskey When We’re Dry (John Larison)
The Overstory (Richard Powers)
The Autobiography of a Curmudgeon (Harold Ickes)




Colleen Johnson | Graduate Research Assistant



David Robinson | Director Emeritus