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Arguments for the Humanities

Ernesto Priego: “These must be truly apocalyptic times if there is a need to explain why the humanities matter”

“Humanities" is a very general term that refers to the enquiry into what makes us human. Why are we here? What do we do with the time we have on the world? What is our relationship with the planet and the tools and products of human ingenuity, physical dexterity and intellect? What can we learn from the past and the present in order to have a better future for all? These questions have been replaced by what is perceived as more immediate problems, such as how to make more money for the happy few or how to preserve the privilege of the already-privileged." - Ernesto Priego
  1. learn from, and build on, history, and lessons learned through history.
  2. fulfill democracy’s need for citizens who can think independently
  3. learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions.
  4. help us understand the world we live in by exploring our connection to it.
  5. provide the ability to envision the future by drawing connections to the past.
  6. provide meaning to the empirical fact, provide insight beyond simple categories.
  7. allow innovation & vision in science, politics and business through context
  8. provide an ethical context for determining law and societal frameworks
  9. to develop linguistic competency towards broader communications
  10. provide an ethical framework for biological and scientific exploration
  11. statistics posit that humanities graduates do incredibly well professionally

A related set of arguments:

  • The humanities are about your stories, your histories, your cultures and your hopes.
  • The humanities develop our understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of life.
  • The humanities are about knowing yourself in different ways.
  • The humanities develop informed and critical citizens. Without them democracy doesn't flourish.
  • The humanities encourage us to think creatively and critically. They teach us to reason about being human and to ask questions about our world.
  • The humanities are about understanding others in the world through their languages, histories, and cultures.
  • The humanities help us understand where we came from and where we aspire to go.
  • The humanities are about all the important human things that can't be measured or predicted like love, justice, history, and desire.
  • The humanities around what humans express and communicate to each other. Without the humanities there would be no deep literacy, just noise.
  • Engineers solve problems, humanists think about what problems should be solved and which cannot.
  • The humanities provide the ethical framework on which our laws and democratic societies are built.
  • Without the human ability to know yourself, to understand others, and to communicate what you know to others, science and engineering are lost.

Arguments for the Humanities

  1. Why the Humanities Matter: A Commonsense Approach
  2. WHY THE HUMANITIES MATTER~ in response to the "crisis," let's respond
  3. Why Do the Humanities Matter? Answers from the 2002 St. Francis College Humanities Day
  4. The Case for History and the Humanities
  5. In defence of the humanities

Another set of arguments for the Humanties

  • BA’s teach rigorous thought as well as teach clear articulation of ideas. Useful for an individual as well as VITAL for a functioning democracy.
  • Skills in the arts and humanities don’t date, they are timeless and uniquely human.
  • Education is the biggest factor in promoting social mobility. The arts and humanities promote an education that does not assume its students occupy a fixed place in society.
  • The arts evaluate what is just, what is fair, and what is inherently good rather than ask just ‘will this make money’? They sustain our cultural and ethical lives.
  • The UK’s economy is dependent on its media, culture, and tourism. These fields are fuelled by the creativity of arts and humanities graduates.
  • Elitism assumes that only some people are interested in or have the time for the arts and humanities.
  • Without the capacity to think beyond repetition (ie creatively and freely) there is no beyond to crisis.
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