Interlude: Looking At The Humanities

A few words to Sam: It has just struck me that I have not yet spoken about the Humanities, and about what being in the School of Humanities at the University of Newcastle, Australia, means to me personally, and about how my involvement in this field of study changed and enriched my life.  While blogging about our wonderful trip to Europe I have been thinking a good deal about why we were in England, and how it had happened, and what we doing, and it has suddenly occurred to me that I should explain a few things. Later, I will return to blogging about our travels through England and Europe but for now I will take a break to discuss my journey through a vastly different type of experience, one which I embarked upon many years ago now.

At one point in my life I had a tree-change. At the same time, I took a change in career. I left the nursing profession to become an educator in the school sector, and set about gaining further degrees, some in the Humanities, and which I saw might help me in my work. After a lot of years,  due to increasingly heavy demands on my time as an educator, and after gaining another degree, I had to put my further studies in the Humanities on hold. Years  later again, when I was looking down the long barrel at the possibility of future retirement, I could not see myself retiring to a life of what is so often taken to mean “leisure.” For me, I had to have something to retire into. So I began to consider what other paths I could follow that would provide food for my mind and soul.  Then, through a set of circumstances beyond my control, I suddenly reached a crossroad in my life and, urged on by a few significant others (friends and family,) I made the decision to return to the University, and again take up my studies in Humanities.

Back then, I had absolutely no idea about where my studies, and interest, in the Humanities would lead. Never once, not even in my wildest dreams, did I ever imagine that my path in life would lead to Bob and me going overseas to Asia, Canada and America, and then Europe.

In previous of my posts I have mentioned that my husband, Bob, is very interested in history. In actuality, Bob and I are both involved in the Humanities. He  is an undergraduate at the University of Newcastle, Australia, where he is studying for his BA degree, and is undertaking a double major—History and Politics. As I mentioned to Sam on the “About” page to my blog, ‘Words for Sam’, I hold a PhD in English, and am a Conjoint Fellow to the Faculty of Education and the Arts, School of Humanities and Social Science, at the University of Newcastle, Australia, and I am a writer.

I should now explain to Sam that the reason we were in England at all last year, was because we were in transit, on our way to Madeira.  I had been fortunate in gaining a speaking place at the CeHa/IABA European Chapter conference 2015: IABA 4th European Conference, “Dialogical Dimensions in Narrating Lives and Life Writing,” an international conference being held at Centro De Estudos De Historia Do Atlántico, Funchal, Madeira, on the 27, 28, 29 May 2015.  Travel to Europe is expensive, so we were determined to make the most of our buck, and our time, and our good fortune, and had chosen to break our journey and take a two-week side-trip–a sort of hands-on “research” holiday that would assist us in our fields of study–in England, before travelling on to Madeira via France.  Not once in our lives had we ever thought that we would be lucky enough to go to Europe. For us, the opportunity and the trip was a dream come true. So there was no way we were going to waste a plane ticket. We determined that we would spend every moment of every day (and night) cramming in as much and as many different experiences as we possibly could without dropping dead of total exhaustion.

Anyway, that said, the question for Sam here in this post is: What exactly are the Humanities?

The Humanities are concerned with humanity and the human condition, and are about human values, about what being a human means and what it means to be a human, and involve looking at and questioning ethical and moral values.  In fact, the Humanities are more about questions than answers. Like, for instance what is truth? How do we know something is true? Why do we believe some things are true and others are not? How do we decide what is the right or wrong thing to do for us personally and for society as a whole. What is the meaning of life? What is the point of life? Should happiness be our goal? Should happiness be an end in itself, or a side-effect of some other goal like learning, gaining knowledge, or reducing ignorance or suffering?  Each person has to find his or her own answers to these things.

Sam and I searched the net and found a number of online sites that deal with, or are related to, the various aspects of the study of, and the disciplines involved in, the Humanities. I have referred to some of those sites below,  and have numbered them for no other reason than to distinguish the various sites one from the other.  Sam has pointed out that I have not given the whole of the information provided on these sites, but have taken excerpts from each:

1: The University of Newcastle Faculty of Education and Arts …

https://downloads.newcastle.edu.au/library/cultural collections/pdf…PDF file

Media Structures & Practices

School of Humanities and Social Science 100% ….

Media Structures and Practices interrogates the theory, organisation, meaning and ‘lived practice’ of contemporary media structures, principally from the perspective of cultural and media studies. The course focuses upon the key areas of media and communication in contemporary society: popular music, radio, television and film, and their points of similarity and convergence. Particular emphasis is placed upon Australian media structures, and how they relate to global media contexts. They will be examined as structures that not only document social change, but have the potential to transform societies. The course also examines ‘new’ media technologies, and their potential effects upon existing organisational structures….

The course seeks to examine how and why consumers find pleasure in the media as part of their daily lives, and how it is used in a variety of social relationships. This cannot be understood without also seeing how media is produced, as a series of cultural industries with global reach. Positioned somewhere between economics and consumption, the role of government is important in establishing frameworks for production and consumption. Media policy will be examined in relation to its power to establish and change institutional practice….

The purpose of this course is to contribute to the School of Humanities & Social Science objective of facilitating understanding of how societies and cultures are organised, how they develop and how they change. It also contributes to the Faculty’s objectives of developing in graduates

  • Depth and breadth of knowledge
  • Critical and creative thinking ….
  • Communication skills
  • Responsiveness to the demands of the community and profession.

The course contributes to these goals through its teaching and assessment program and its encouragement of critical reflection.…

2: Stanford Humanities

shc.stanford.edu/what

What are the humanities?

The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries….

3: Definition: Humanities – Miami University

http://www.units.miamioh.edu/technologyandhumanities/humanitiesdefinition.htm

As defined by the Ohio Humanities Council: What Are The Humanities? In its definition of the humanities, Congress includes: Archaeology ….

The humanities are the stories, the ideas, and the words that help us make sense of our lives and our world. The humanities introduce us to people we have never met, places we have never visited, and ideas that may have never crossed our minds. By showing how others have lived and thought about life, the humanities help us decide what is important in our own lives and what we can do to make them better. By connecting us with other people, they point the way to answers about what is right or wrong, or what is true to our heritage and our history. The humanities help us address the challenges we face together in our families, our communities, and as a nation. …

As fields of study, the humanities emphasize analysis and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative explanation of the sciences.

1. History, Anthropology, and Archaeology study human social, political, and cultural development.

2. Literature, Languages, and Linguistics explore how we communicate with each other, and how our ideas and thoughts on the human experience are expressed and interpreted.

3. Philosophy, Ethics, and Comparative Religion consider ideas about the meaning of life and the reasons for our thoughts and actions.

4. Jurisprudence examines the values and principles which inform our laws.

5. Historical, Critical, and Theoretical Approaches to the Arts reflect upon and analyze the creative process.

As defined by Lyn Maxwell White, “The Humanities,” in Handbook of the Undergraduate Curriculum: A Comprehensive Guide to Purposes, Structures, Practices, and Change, eds. Jerry G. Gaff, James L. Ratcliff, et. al. (San Francisco: Jossey-Bass, 1997), 262-279.

Disciplines of the humanities such as philosophy, history, and literary studies offer models and methods for addressing dilemmas and acknowledging ambiguity and paradox. They can help us face the tension between the concerns of individuals and those of groups and promote civil and informed discussion of conflicts, placing current issues in historical perspective. They also give voice to feeling and artistic shape to experience, balancing passion and rationality and exploring issues of morality and value. The study of the humanities provides a venue in which the expression of diddering interpretations and experiences can be recognized and areas of common interest explored. (263)

4: Humanities – definition of humanities by The Free Dictionary

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/humanities

Define humanities.

  1. Humans considered as a group; the human race.
  2. The condition or quality of being human.
  3. The quality of being humane; benevolence.
  4. A humane characteristic, attribute, or act.

…. humanities…. Those branches of knowledge, such as philosophy, literature, and art, that are concerned with human thought and culture.

5: What does humanities mean? definition, meaning and …

http://www.audioenglish.org/dictionary/humanities.htm

Definition of humanities in the AudioEnglish.org Dictionary. Meaning of humanities. What does humanities mean? …

  1. studies intended to provide general knowledge and intellectual skills (rather than occupational or professional skills)….

Hyponyms (each of the following is a kind of “humanities”):

neoclassicism (revival of a classical style (in art or literature or architecture or music) but from a new perspective or with a new motivation)

philosophy (the rational investigation of questions about existence and knowledge and ethics)

literary study (the humanistic study of literature)

library science (the study of the principles and practices of library administration)

linguistics; philology (the humanistic study of language and literature)

musicology (the scholarly and scientific study of music)

Sinology (the study of Chinese history and language and culture)

stemmatics; stemmatology (the humanistic discipline that attempts to reconstruct the transmission of a text (especially a text in manuscript form) on the basis of relations between the various surviving manuscripts (sometimes using cladistic analysis))

trivium ((Middle Ages) an introductory curriculum at a medieval university involving grammar and logic and rhetoric; considered to be a triple way to eloquence)

Oriental Studies; Orientalism (the scholarly knowledge of Asian cultures and languages and people)

Occidentalism (the scholarly knowledge of Western cultures and languages and people)

classicalism; classicism (a movement in literature and art during the 17th and 18th centuries in Europe that favored rationality and restraint and strict forms)

Romantic Movement; Romanticism (a movement in literature and art during the late 18th and early 19th centuries that celebrated nature rather than civilization)

English (the discipline that studies the English language and literature)

history (the discipline that records and interprets past events involving human beings)

art history (the academic discipline that studies the development of painting and sculpture)

chronology (the determination of the actual temporal sequence of past events)

beaux arts; fine arts (the study and creation of visual works of art)

performing arts (arts or skills that require public performance)

quadrivium ((Middle Ages) a higher division of the curriculum in a medieval university involving arithmetic and music and geometry and astronomy)

6: Humanity | Define Humanity at Dictionary.com

http://www.dictionary.com/browse/humanity

the humanities.…all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind; the quality or condition of being human; human nature.

7: Why do the humanities matter? | Stanford Humanities

shc.stanford.edu/why-dohumanities-matter

Why do the humanities matter? …. Taking a philosophical approach to the assumptions that surround the study of human behavior, Stanford philosophy Professor Helen Longino suggests that no single research method is capable of answering the question of nature vs. nurture….

Through exploration of the humanities we learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions. Because these skills allow us to gain new insights into everything from poetry and paintings to business models and politics, humanistic subjects have been at the heart of a liberal arts education since the ancient Greeks first used them to educate their citizens….

Research into the human experience adds to our knowledge about our world. Through the work of humanities scholars, we learn about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making a work of art, about how history is made. Their efforts preserve the great accomplishments of the past, help us understand the world we live in, and give us tools to imagine the future….

Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. Investigating a branch of philosophy might get you thinking about ethical questions. Learning another language might help you gain an appreciation for the similarities in different cultures. Contemplating a sculpture might make you think about how an artist’s life affected her creative decisions. Reading a book from another region of the world, might help you think about the meaning of democracy. Listening to a history course might help you better understand the past, while at the same time offer you a clearer picture of the future.

8: Humanity – definition of humanity by The Free Dictionary

http://www.thefreedictionary.com/humanity

Define humanity….

  1. Humans considered as a group; the human race.
  2. The condition or quality of being human.
  3. The quality of being humane; benevolence.
  4. A humane characteristic, attribute, or act.
  5. humanities
  6. The languages and literatures of ancient Greece and Rome; the classics.
  7. Those branches of knowledge, such as: philosophy, literature, and art, that are concerned with human thought and culture.

Collins English Dictionary – Complete and Unabridged, 12th Edition 2014 © HarperCollins Publishers 1991, 1994, 1998, 2000, 2003, 2006, 2007, 2009, 2011, 2014

hu•man•i•ty n., pl. -ties.

  1. all human beings collectively; the human race; humankind.
  2. the quality or condition of being human; human nature.
  3. the quality of being humane; kindness; benevolence; goodwill.
  4. the humanities,
  5. literature, languages, philosophy, art, etc., or their study: distinguished from the sciences.
  6. classical languages and classical literature, esp. as a field of study….

9: Humanities Major | What Can You Do with a Humanities Degree

http://www.worldwidelearn.com › Guide to College Majors

What Does it Mean to Study Humanities?

The humanities – also referred to as social sciences – are part of the liberal arts. They are defined by Webster’s Dictionary as “the branches of learning having primarily a cultural character.”

The emphasis is on languages, literature, art, music, philosophy, and religion. An Arts & Humanities degree in humanities major can include art history, classical studies, liberal arts, English, history, modern languages, philosophy, religious studies and writing. They are all classified as humanities degrees, despite the fact that many colleges and universities have separate faculties for these studies.

In the humanities, you’ll study all aspects of society – from past events and achievements to human behavior and relationships among groups. You learn how to learn, developing your skills in researching, reading, writing, and thinking your way through abstract problems….

Like a general studies degree or a liberal arts degree, a humanities degree provides such a broad base of disciplines and options that you’ll find it rewarding at any level.…

The … humanities introduces students to a broad perspective on human behavior, thought, and values through selected topics across the arts and humanities. You’ll develop skills in communication, writing, problem-solving and critical thinking.

A BA in humanities can often lead to future studies in law, medicine, and business. Teaching certification is often preceded by a liberal arts or humanities degree. The bachelor’s degree provides a suitable background for many different kinds of entry-level jobs, such as research assistant, administrative aide, or management or sales trainee. If you want to study and work at the same time, consider taking online college courses to get the most out of your career and your education.

What Can you Do With a College Degree in Humanities? ….

Advertising: Your study of human culture and society can prove very helpful when trying to figure out how people might react to a certain kind of ad–and your specific background, be it music, philosophy or beyond, can enable highly creative thinking.

Foreign Service: Especially if you’ve majored in the study of a particular culture, your ability to understand the workings of human society are invaluable when trying to work in a foreign country.

Journalism: Good communicative skills and the ability to think analytically are the most important qualities for a journalist. Many top journalists have humanities and liberal arts backgrounds instead of journalism school degrees.

Law: Humanities majors are the most common prerequisites for law school. It may seem to require a lot of rote memorization of court cases and laws, but by far the most crucial attribute for any lawyer is the ability to think critically and to relate current issues to past ones (history is a popular undergraduate degree for law students).

Public administration: If you’ve studied how societies work, you’re probably qualified to help make them work.

Publishing: This is a good choice for literature and communications majors, who must be able to recognize quality writing when they see it and champion it to publishers and the reading public.

Teaching: If you’re passionate about your subject, pass it on to others. The skills you learn in your own degree program can be taught to the next generation.

10: Why Study the Arts and the Humanities? – The Huffington Post

www.huffingtonpost.com/daniel-r-schwarz/why-study-the-arts-and-th

Why Study the Arts and the Humanities?

10/07/2013 02:57 pm ET | Updated Dec 07, 2013

Daniel R. Schwarz Stephen H. Weiss Presidential Fellow and Frederic J. Whiton Professor of English Literature at Cornell University

…. I have seen quite a few insightful commentaries, most stressing economic utility — how the humanities help students succeed in whatever endeavor they pursue — and some stressing how the humanities contribute to making students better citizens in a democracy. In my definition, the humanities not only include literature of both ancient and modern languages, the performing arts, philosophy, comparative religion, and cultural studies, but also history, anthropology, and linguistics, although the latter three are often on the border between humanities and the social sciences.

What follows are my own reasons to study the humanities, with a particular focus on the arts. My reasons balance utility with more idealistic quality of life issues. Thus I want to stress both the isness and doesness of the humanities, which in fact is a version of the Horatian credo of delighting and instructing.

On the utility or doesness side, I would stress the value of learning to think critically and independently, read powerfully and perceptively, write lucidly and precisely, and speak articulately.

On the quality of life or isness side, I would stress that the arts take us into imagined worlds created by different minds and enable us to understand how others live. We are what we read, the museums we visit and the performances we see and hear. They are as much us — part of our memories, our isness — as the culture we inherit and the life experiences we have.

That entry into other worlds and minds does give us a larger context for thinking about how to live and how to confront and understand present personal and historic issues, even while also giving us pleasure for its own sake.

Another way to think about what the arts do is to ask whether experiencing the arts makes us more perceptive and sensitive humans. We can say with some certainty that reading and viewing masterworks in the visual arts or in attending performances of great music, opera, or ballet widens our horizons about how people behave and what historical and cultural forces shape that behavior. But will, say, reading War and Peace be a catalyst to heroic action or, as Tolstoy urges, putting family first? Probably not. Will it make us slightly more aware of the need to find definition and purpose in life? Perhaps in some nuanced, immeasurable way, the answer is “Yes.” Do adolescents learn anything about life, love, and the place of the imagination from classic young adult fiction like Lawrence’s Sons and Lovers, Joyce’s A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, and Salinger’s Catcher in the Rye? I did.

Perhaps the best answer to who gets the most out of the arts is that it depends on what the reader, viewer, or listener brings to her or his experience. For there is a symbiotic relationship between art and audience, and each perceiver is a community of one….

By awakening our imagination, art intensifies and complements our own experience. Art represents people, cultures, values, and perspectives on living, but it does much more. While bringing us pleasure, art teaches us. While reading or contemplating a painting our minds go elsewhere. We are taken on a journey into a world where form and meaning are intertwined.

Form matters and gives pleasure. How a work of art is organized — its technique, its verbal or visual texture, its way of telling — gives pleasure. So does the inextricable relation between form and content. The form of imaginative art, as well as the form of well-written non-fiction, organizes the mess (if not the chaos) of personal life as well as that of external events. Form not only organizes and controls art but also other bodies of knowledge within the humanities. Form imposes structure that our own lives — as we move from moment to moment through time — may lack.

Narrative — sequential telling — imposes form as it orders and gives shape. Indeed, in the sense that each of us is continually giving shape to the stories we tell to and about ourselves, there is continuity between what we read and see and our own lives. Put another way, what we read teaches us to find narratives within our own lives and hence helps us make sense of who we are. Our seeing shapes and patterns in stories and other kinds of art helps give interpretive order — in the form of a narrative that we understand — to our lives. We live in our narratives, our discourse, about our actions, thought, and feelings.

While there is always a gulf between imagined worlds and real ones, does not the continuity between reading lives and reading texts depend on our understanding reading as a means of sharpening our perceptions and deepen our insights about ourselves? Reading is a process of cognition that depends on actively organizing the phenomena of language both in the moment of perception and in the fuller understanding that develops retrospectively….

11: Why Study the Humanities? – University of Tennessee at …

http://www.utc.edu › Humanities

What are the Humanities?

The humanities traditionally encompass those disciplines that treat human culture, experience, and perception as an object of study while simultaneously treating the person as a knowing subject, and that pierce to the core of culture and the human condition.

These disciplines include the traditional liberal arts such as philosophy, music, art, literature, religion, ethics, and history; increasingly, the humanities have widened so as to include disciplines such as political science, law, archaeology, and anthropology. These disciplines, often overlooked or undervalued in the Age of Technology and Information, seek to reawaken the wonder of human accomplishment, to sharpen the intellect and to fire the imagination, and to reflect on the perennial questions of human existence: What is the nature of beauty? How does a culture define, express, or represent ultimate reality? What constitutes a just action or society? How do human beings across time and cultures understand happiness or suffering, grapple with notions of good and evil, debate political questions, or interpret and articulate the kaleidoscope of human experience in an incandescent universe?  ….

Why study the Humanities?

The nineteenth-century English philosopher John Stuart Mill …. surmises that universities ought to be places that encourage students to become “capable and cultivated human beings.” This may sound outdated, naïve, or perhaps hopelessly idealistic to our postmodern ears, for most students entering college are groomed to pursue an avenue of specialization. But Mill objects that human beings are human beings “before they are lawyers or physicians, or merchants, or manufacturers.” Consequently, Mill reasons that “if you make them capable and sensible” human beings, a goal achieved in part through a strong humanities curriculum, then “they will make themselves capable and sensible lawyers or physicians.” ….

Potentially, the study of the humanities cultivates that “philosophic habit of mind” of which John Henry Newman speaks—something radically different from an Internet and Information Age which values speed and instant gratification. On the contrary, the humanities typically require slow, sustained deliberation on the fundamental questions of our (or any) age.

12: On Studying the Humanities: What Does it Mean to Be Human?

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/david-behling/humanitiesmajors_b_1569600.html

David Behling English Professor at Waldorf Collegein the Department of Humanities at Waldorf College ….

It’s a given. Every time I tell someone that I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Humanities at Waldorf College, they ask “So what do you teach?”

Most of the time, the questioner wants to know the practical answer: I teach Writing, Literature, Philosophy, Religion, and German. But occasionally people want an answer to a deeper question: What is (or are) the humanities?

The humanities include the stories people tell, the art and music they make, the buildings they live and work in… and the list could go on. It’s about finding answers to this question: What does being human mean?….

The main definition of the singular form — humanity — refers to being “humane” and is synonymous with civilized and well-educated. Humane people recognize and practice concepts like “hospitality” and “justice” even if precise definitions might vary in different times and places. The word also refers to a collective — the human race.

Used in the plural — humanities — it usually becomes “the humanities” or a field of study within university settings, a group of “subjects” scholars study, discuss and debate including history, music, art, languages, philosophy, religion, and literature. The humanities have been part of the curriculum since the very beginning of universities….

When we study the humanities we study people, only not psychologically or biologically (although those fields do come into it from time to time). Mainly we’re learning about how people in earlier ages or faraway places created the world they lived in, and how the world they lived in made them the people they were. And while studying the many different subjects contained with the humanities, we inevitably end up learning about more than simply past or distant cultures. We end up learning how we create the world we live in now, and how the world we live in makes us the kind of people we are.

The humanities are at the core of a Liberal Arts education because they are about understanding how people are active creators of culture, not just passive recipients of tradition. We choose to do many things with our lives — career, spirituality, music, art — and those choices shape who we become.

With degrees in the humanities, students can head in just about any direction, from law to business to politics to parenting and homemaking. As students analyze the various artifacts presented to them in history, literature or religion classes, they learn how to think critically, solve problems, and see issues from a variety of perspectives. Plus, they learn how to speak and write with conviction….

So it’s hard to come up with a career or vocation in which those skills aren’t important; building a career after studying the humanities depends more on a student’s ambition than on anything else, something that is true for anybody heading into the world of work. What do students want to do? College degrees and career offices can help, but students have to create a tangible path that turns their dreams into their success.

Looking past questions about earning potential, however, the windows on the human experience opened by the humanities reveal many different kinds of people and ways of thinking about life, the universe and everything. I think they teach us how to be humane — how to be good people — wherever we live and whatever we do….

13: Studies in Humanities: College and University Program Options

study.com › … › Humanities

Humanities can be described as the broad, interdisciplinary study of society and culture throughout history.

14: Why study the Humanities? – Home | University Of Chester

www.chester.ac.uk/humanities/new-homepage/why-study

There is no final answer in scholarly inquiry in the Humanities. The student and the academic share the task of understanding different perspectives, evaluating their strengths and weaknesses, balancing them against other viewpoints, and constructing a well-argued case, based on a combination of evidence and a knowledge of the insights of others.

In the Humanities you will develop skills of critical analysis, gathering evidence and evaluating arguments. You will examine texts and other sources carefully, learning skills that can make your interpretation precise and convincing.  We will help you sharpen these skills, that will prove invaluable lifelong, both in your private life and in your career. We will empower you to think for yourself, to learn to work in teams with others, and to present your case in writing, in discussions and in presentations.

15: Humanities in the Twenty-First Century | Edutopia

http://www.edutopia.org/blog/humanities-twenty-first-century-bill-smoot

Why Study the Humanities? … The lessons of the humanities are many and varied ….

“Advice for life.” That phrase captures the value of the humanities in education. The lessons of the humanities are many and varied, and they do not comprise a unified worldview. There is no guarantee that they make us more moral. But they do speak to us, and they offer to our imaginations situations we have not yet — and may never — experience, the better to understand when — and if — we find ourselves confronting the choices faced by Odysseus, Antigone, or Hamlet.

With each new gee-whiz technological gadget […] I become more convinced that the humanities’ greatest value lies, as my student said, in their lessons for contemporary life. For the world will never change so rapidly as to outpace the issues universal to humanity — war and peace, good and evil, justice and revenge. Unless we take an awfully dim view of humanity and its potential, we have to conclude that it is better to think about these things than not, and better to think about them more rather than less. Lest we fall prey to an arrogance like that which infected those suitors on Ithaca, we should acknowledge that the deepest literary and artistic expressions of the world’s cultures, from the ancients to the contemporary, are of interest and value to us. We need them.…

What can the humanities offer students in the 21st century? Merely the possibility of teaching them to pay attention, to contemplate, to appreciate beauty, to experience awe and wonder, to think with depth and sensitivity about life, and to know there are values beyond profit and self-interest. The humanities teach us habits of critical thought and the historical perspective necessary for citizenship in a democracy. And they help us to think about how to use technology to make the world a better home for humanity.

This is not meant as a rallying cry for educational Luddites or to deepen the divide between the world of science and technology on the one hand and the humanities on the other. But it is meant as a reminder that the classics, from the ancient to the contemporary, became so because they endured, and they endured because their greatness in form and content transcends their time and place and thus speaks to everyone. The humanities speak to us, but the responsibility to listen is ours ….

16: Why do the humanities matter? | Stanford Humanities

shc.stanford.edu/why-dohumanities-matter

Through exploration of the humanities we learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions. Because these skills allow us to gain new insights into everything from poetry and paintings to business models and politics, humanistic subjects have been at the heart of a liberal arts education since the ancient Greeks first used  them to educate their citizens….

Research into the human experience adds to our knowledge about our world. Through the work of humanities scholars, we learn about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making a work of art, about how history is made. Their efforts preserve the great accomplishments of the past, help us understand the world we live in, and give us tools to imagine the future….

Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. Investigating a branch of philosophy might get you thinking about ethical questions. Learning another language might help you gain an appreciation for the similarities in different cultures. Contemplating a sculpture might make you think about how an artist’s life affected her creative decisions. Reading a book from another region of the world, might help you think about the meaning of democracy. Listening to a history course might help you better understand the past, while at the same time offer you a clearer picture of the future….

Now, a few words to Sam: Communication, respect, ethics, and working towards understanding oneself and others, are valuable assets to have, and are some of the things that can help build a basis for good relationships on personal, employment, community, societal and global levels.  Personally, I firmly believe that, regardless of the particular discipline chosen—no matter whether medicine, science, engineering, food production, business and management studies, mining, or whatever else–it should be mandatory for all university students to undertake some study in the Humanities: the reasons are clear, and as are variously stated above …

To be continued…

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