What are the humanities, and why are they important?


According to Princeton University: Humanities can be defined as the following: studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills); "the college of arts and sciences"


According to the North Alleghany School District: Humanities means: The branch of learning that connects the fine arts, literature, languages, philosophy and cultural science. The humanities are concerned with the understanding and integration of all human thought and accomplishment.


According to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act: "The term 'humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life."


According to the Massachusetts’ Endowment for the Humanities: The humanities enrich and ennoble us, and their pursuit would be worthwhile even if they were not socially useful. But in fact, the humanities are socially useful. They fulfill vitally important needs for · critical and imaginative thinking about the issues that confront us as citizens and as human beings; · reasoned and open-minded discussion of the basic values that are at stake in the various policies and practices that are proposed to address these issues; · understanding and appreciating the experiences of others, and the ways in which the issues that confront us now have been understood in other times, places, and cultures. The humanities concern themselves with the complete record of human experience—exploring, assessing, interpreting, and refining it, while at the same time adding to it. We need the humanities. Without them, we cannot possibly govern ourselves wisely or well.


According to Dr. Lyn Neylon: Studying the humanities is a wonderful opportunity to learn about yourself and the people in your world. By understanding what people thought and felt in the past, we better understand our current problems and can make better choices for our future. Humanities is all about understanding humankind and the human condition. As people attempt to understand and find their place in the world, they create. By studying their creations, we come to know ourselves and our society better. I hope you will take the time to explore the humanities and learn about art, literature, language, music, theater, architecture and more. As you explore the creations of others, you will learn a great deal about yourself and what it means to be human.



Dr. Lyn Neylon
Humanities Department


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