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What Are The Humanities?

In its definition of the humanities, Congress includes:

As defined by the Ohio Humanities Council:

Comparative Religion
Languages & Linguistics
History, Theory, and Criticism of the Arts

Aspects of the Social Sciences Which Use Historical or Philosophical Approach

Humanities, General and Interdisciplinary

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.

The humanities should not be confused with "humanism," a specific philosophical belief, nor with
"humanitarianism," the concern for charitable works and social reform.

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.

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

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.

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

Jurisprudence examines the values and principles which inform our laws.

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 doddering interpretations and experiences can be recognized and areas of common interest
explored. (263)

The importance of humanities

Did you know that over two-thirds of humanities majors get jobs in the private sector? Did you know that almost
60% of U.S. CEOs have degrees in the humanities? Did you know that the humanities receive less than 0.5% of
federal research money in the U.S. and only about 1% in Europe?

I didn’t know these things either until I saw the list of winners of the 2013 Digital Humanities Awards and had a
good look at an info graphic called The Humanities Matter!

There’s research on the impact of the humanities; there’s evidence demonstrating how studying the humanities
benefits society, employers and individuals. I’ll list here nine arguments that the humanities are important. While
you read them, try to think of what you would fill in as number 10.

1. The humanities help us understand others through their languages, histories and cultures.
2. They foster social justice and equality.
3. And they reveal how people have tried to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of the world.
4. The humanities teach empathy.
5. They teach us to deal critically and logically with subjective, complex, imperfect information.
6. And they teach us to weigh evidence skeptically and consider more than one side of every question.
7. Humanities students build skills in writing and critical reading.
8. The humanities encourage us to think creatively. They teach us to reason about being human and to ask questions
about our world.
9. The humanities develop informed and critical citizens. Without the humanities, democracy could not flourish.

I believe these claims and I know they are based on solid research. I see much more, too. For example, I think that
innovations based on research results in the natural sciences and medicine are more likely to be successful if their
implementation is carried out in collaboration with humanists.

St. Paul University Surigao

Surigao City

Kristopher Ngilangil

Peter Carl Sinday