I am deeply passionate about advocating for Liberal Arts and helping anyone who is interested to understand how literature, philosophy, communication, analysis, and critical thinking are woven into the fabric of our lives.
I’ve spent considerable time teaching Liberal Arts courses, Humanities in particular, and have enjoyed explaining just what the Humanities are and why they are essential not just to Liberal Arts, but to our world as a whole. I’d like to take a few moments to offer my insight. I hope you find it helpful!
What are the Humanities?
Let’s start by looking at the root of Humanities. It’s all about people and understanding what makes people tick and what motivates them to do what they do. My favorite part of the Humanities is that, at heart, it encourages, even requires us, to seek to understand. It is part of the human condition to desire an understanding of our surroundings, how we fit in, how we can (and do) have an impact on our world, and what all this means. We should seek to understand ourselves, our emotions, thoughts, and experiences in relation to others.
Expression is Essential.
Read that again. Expression is essential. It is essential for everyone, no matter the profession or discourse of study you are currently absorbed in. To be heard, read, and understood; and also to listen, read, and understand, are fundamental qualities of the study of Humanities.
Critique of the Humanities.
One critique of the Humanities (and Liberal Arts in general) is that it does not translate directly to a particular profession, other than teaching. This is the very critique I have addressed in Liberal Arts are Essential and Liberal is Not A Dirty Word. In those posts, I explain how it is superficial to view programs of study as exclusive bodies of knowledge that do not rely on each other. It’s this over-simplifying of subjects that pins the Humanities and the Liberal Arts in direct opposition to science, technology, and mathematics, when in reality, their relationships are more complex and interconnected.
The Humanities involves literature, philosophy, foreign language, psychology and sociology; and seeks to understand and analyze complex situations and just how nuanced our world can be. It is not black or white. There is not just one solution and one way leading to that solution.
If we don’t place more value on the Humanities and the Liberal Arts, we are in danger of pigeonholing our next generation and forcing them into choosing a particular field of study and profession because they may merely say “This is what I do.”
The How and Why
Humanities isn’t a study of what we do, it’s a study of the how and the why. The study of Humanities focuses less on a final product, like infrastructure or scientific advancement, such as the quick development and distribution of a vaccine. It’s more about the process and the thinking, the collaborative brain work that goes into developing those solutions. That, my friends, is where the Humanities resides. That’s where it’s important, nay essential, for our world.
Thanks for stopping by!