Congratulations to Dustyn Stone Addington and Humanities Washington on winning the Schwartz Prize for Outstanding Humanities Public Programming for their series, Cabin Fever Questions! Dustyn Stone Addington is a doctoral candidate in philosophy, as well as the director of programs at Humanities Washington.The first week that Washington state headed into lockdown, in March 2020, Humanities Washington saw the need for social connection. They created a series of prompts on social media called Cabin Fever Questions, encouraging their audience to explore important questions such as:
- How might a society’s morals change in a crisis? Should they change?
- What does “home” mean to you? Has your definition changed during lockdown?
- How can we remain informed without feeling overwhelmed?
- How do you define happiness?
- Does disaster bring us together?
Each of these questions was posed with additional content such as articles, podcasts, and videos to help facilitate deeper exploration and conversations. Their hope was that, despite social distancing, we could all find a way to amplify our social connections.
Additionally, they adapted the model of Cabin Fever Questions to serve families with younger children. Cabin Fever Kids provided families online versions of beloved children’s books along with open-ended questions inspired by the story for children, parents, and teachers to discuss—questions rooted in philosophy, critical thinking, and culture. Critically for the program, these books were freely accessible via video recordings, audiobooks, and library copies. These questions and resources are now collected in a free digital book, Cabin Fever Kids.
The Federation for State Humanities Councils, which awards the Schwartz Prize for Outstanding Humanities Public Programming, praised Humanities Washington for “creating something that cut through the [overwhelming, rapid-fire news] and provided context, and that encouraged deeper thinking than [what] typically flashed through their social media feed.” Likewise, they praised Cabin Fever Kids for “crafting this ‘slow and intentional activity,’ that families had the chance to connect and thrive, rather than merely get through the day.” They further remarked that “they loved how simple and clear this concept was, while deeply reflective and engaging. The presentations or prompts on social media and email gave residents opportunities to respond at their own time and at their own pace.”