What Are the Humanities?

What Are the Humanities?

Specifically, NEH defines humanities as including but not limited to “the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism, and theory of the arts; those aspects of the social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

Don Michael Randel, president of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, in a March 10, 2009, panel discussion at George Washington University sponsored by The American Academy of Arts & Sciences eloquently summarized the humanities this way: “What we really hope for is a certain quality of mind…a way in which the mind never ceases to be full of wonder of the world and all its people.”