What do they “do”? Why are they so important?
From an academic standpoint, the humanities include the study of history, philosophy and religion, modern and ancient languages and literatures, fine and performing arts, media and cultural studies, and other fields. Humanities research adds to our knowledge of the world, as scholars investigate differences between cultures and communities around the world and across time, consider the ways art is made and received, or unveil the undercurrents that have shaped history. Humanities education encourages students to think creatively and critically, to reason, and ask questions. And, as the humanities offer insight into nearly every aspect of life, they have been considered a core element of a well-rounded education since ancient times.
Put simply, the humanities help us understand and interpret the human experience, as individuals and societies.
But humanities fields are under threat. Funding for key humanities agencies and programs has been targeted for cuts affecting communities across the country. College and university humanities departments face closures and mergers. More college classes are being taught by contingent faculty members who make too little for teaching too many students.
We believe that everyone can make a difference, and we created the Humanities in Action site for people like you—scholars, teachers, and citizens— to help you connect, learn more, and get involved. The Humanities in Action site features news about the humanities and highlights perspectives from leading humanists on compelling issues; provides information about public policies affecting humanities research, education, and public programs; and offers resources and opportunities for you to act.