The Samuel P. Capen Chair in Philosophy and Comparative Literature was instituted in 1998 to support research initiatives in philosophy and interdisciplinary activities in the humanities and the arts that take place at the University at Buffalo. Since its creation, Jorge J.E. Gracia has organized numerous conferences. lectures, art exhibitions, and other events, including an NEH Summer Institute and an NEH Summer Seminar.
Within the humanities, the resources of the chair are used in particular to support certain fields that are still nationally underrepresented, such as race, ethnicity, Hispanic/Latino issues, and Latin American thought and culture, in addition of traditional areas of philosophy, such as metaphysics and medieval philosophy, and of comparative literature, such as hermeneutics and interpretation.
The chair is also used to build bridges among various disciplines by sponsoring events that integrate the work of scholars in different fields such as philosophy, comparative literature, Romance languages, literature in various languages, history, and art among others.
The chair sponsors events such as conferences and symposia, lectures and seminars, visiting scholars from various parts of the world, and the publication of books, books series, specialized journal issues, and art catalogues. The chair also is intended to sponsor or co-sponsor graduate student fellowships, and to help faculty (particularly junior faculty) and graduate students with travel grants to attend congresses and other professional meetings when they participate on the program.
Moreover, it is part of the mission of the chair to apply for grants with agencies such as the National Endowment for the Humanities and the New York Council for the Humanities, among others.