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We all engage in competition every day – whether it’s through sports, business, politics, the arts, etc. Competition affects us all and contributes to our individual character, local communities and overall culture.

That's why we've chosen Spirit of Competition as our new two-year set of programs. Like Food for Thought, this theme is designed to celebrate, examine and question the role something plays in our daily lives. This time, it's competition. Through the lens of athletics, politics and economics, we'll examine five core elements of competition: civility, rivalry, passion, innovation and failure.

How can you join the team?

Sign up to receive Spirit of Competition e-newsletters. We'll send you targeted e-newsletters that deliver rich, impactful content and visuals, plus all the inside scoop about application deadlines, upcoming events and programs. Sign up here.

Traveling ExhibitHost or visit the traveling exhibit. Hop on a bike and try to match Major Taylor’s blistering track speed. Have a civil debate about city vs. country. Watch a short film about Philo Farnsworth, a 16-year-old inventor from Indiana that should be credited with inventing the television. All of this will be possible at the new, interactive “Spirit of Competition” exhibit that features unknown and well-known stories about Hoosier competitors. Created by Indiana Humanities and designed in partnership with the Indiana Historical Society, the exhibit will engage visitors across the state in thought-provoking conversations about competition and challenge visitors to envision a more competitive Indiana. The exhibit will debut April 18 at the Indiana Historical Society. Stay tuned for details about hosting opportunities! Learn more.

Contribute to our blog. A central hub for conversations online, our blog will integrate essays, short stories, videos and social media. Have an opinion on something or great story related to civility, rivalry, passion, innovation or failure? Email Kristen at kwells@indianahumanities.org for more info.

Give us your starting lineup. Have a great list of 5 competition-related books we should all read? Share it with us!(Check out IU Men's Basketball Head Coach Tom Crean's here.) Email your list, along with a photo and your full name to Kristen at kwells@indianahumanities.org.

Partner with us. Like we did with Food for Thought, we're interested in partnering with organizations on various events and programs to engage new audiences and encourage them to think, read and talk about the role competition plays in their lives. If your organization or business is interested in partnering on an event or program, please contact Brandon at bjudkins@indianahumanities.org.

Are you an educator? Stay tuned for more information about our Spirit of Competition learning kits! Designed by a curriculum advisor, these resources will help educators encourage students to think, read and talk about elements of competition through lessons integrated with social studies, English, civics and physical education curricula.

Also in development: Chew on This conversation cards, a film series, and more!

Elements of this initiative have already included:

Before the Big Game: Lessons learned -- so far.
This pre-Super Bowl breakfast panel featured:

  • Allison Melangton, President and CEO, 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee
  • John Lechleiter, Ph.D., Chairman, President and CEO of Eli Lilly and Company; 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee Board Member
  • Carolene Mays, Commissioner of the Indiana Utility Regulatory Commission; 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee Division Chair of Administration.

The discussion, moderated by journalist, writer and speaker Anne Ryder, centered around lessons learned during the planning process and opportunities for Indianapolis after the crowds disperse. See pictures.

Super Kids, Super Welcome.
This humanities-inspired project with the 2012 Indianapolis Super Bowl Host Committee encouraged Hoosier kids to create a "welcome card" for 18,000 hotel rooms in Central Indiana. We exceeded our goal, and collected more than double that amount. National journalists and visitors have been complimenting the effort, as in this New York Times blog post.

Read about why we helped honor Hamilton County with the gifts pictured, here.

Our Food, Our Farmers essay contest.
Students in grades 4-12 participated in the 2nd Annual Ag Essay Contest titled “Our Food, Our Farmers: Feeding the World.” This year’s contest explored Indiana’s role as a global agricultural leader. Sponsored by Indiana’s Family of Farmers and Indiana Humanities, the essay contest encouraged students to recognize and share all the ways Indiana agriculture plays a positive role in their own lives – as well as in the lives of those around them. Learn more.

INconversation with Christopher Bedford.
On March 16, Indiana Humanities partnered with iMOCA for an INconversation featuring contemporary art curator Christopher Bedford. Moderated by the IMA's Sarah Green, this discussion was inspired by Bedford’s Hard Targets exhibit at iMOCA, which explored masculinity in sport. Learn more and listen in.

INconversation with Will Allen.
The perfect transition from Food for Thought to Spirit of Competition, this event featured Will Allen, a former Miami Hurricane basketball star who has become an influential and inspiring urban farmer. The son of sharecroppers and the first African-American to play college basketball for the University of Miami, Will is widely considered the leading authority in the expanding field of urban agriculture. On Jan. 13, he received the NCAA’s top honor to his long list of accolades: the prestigious Theodore Roosevelt Award. Learn more and listen in.