What are the Humanities?

The humanities are the ideas and the knowledge about human history and culture that help you make sense of your life. The humanities ask you to consider how and why we humans think and act as we do.

The humanities inspire curiosity and vision. Inquiry, observation, reflection, analysis, and discussion are the tools of the humanities. A good public humanities program encourages you to think imaginatively and critically about the world.

It can be helpful to think of the humanities as interpretive.  They explore questions that begin with “why?”  Academic disciplines we typically associate with the humanities are listed here. This list is not exhaustive.

• archaeology

• cultural anthropology

• the history, theory, and criticism of the arts

• ethics

• ethnic studies

• folklore

• history

• jurisprudence

• languages

• linguistics

• literature

• philosophy

• religious studies

• women’s studies

• those aspects of the social sciences that employ historical or philosophical approaches.