The Humanities Matter

Karen Wikander

When I first started working at Nevada Humanities, there was a day when I travelled to Las Vegas, trying to woo teachers into using the ONE in the classroom. "Whizz! Bang! Help me help you!" kind of stuff. After a day doing the calisthenics of an extrovert, my very introverted self was thrilled to finally sit back and relax on the plane ride home to Reno. Of course, as it was a Southwest flight from LAS --> RNO, the plane was heaving with people. As I was lucky enough to be one of the last people to board, I ended up in the dreaded middle seat. So much for hiding out next to the window.

That said, I was lucky enough to be seated next to a very pleasant guy who worked in geothermal energy. After developing a friendly banter, and as you do when trapped with people in close quarters, he asked me how I spent my days in the salt mines. I told him that I worked for Nevada Humanities. Blank stare. I explained that we produce the yearly Chautauqua and Young Chautauqua festival, which is usually when people go "ohhhhh." Blank stare. I explained about the ONE, of which I'm managing editor. Flicker of interest. Then he asked, "Okay, but what are the Humanities? What's the point of the Humanities?"

Mind = blank. I mean, of course I know what the Humanities are, but did I have a prepared elevator speech? No. Should I list every academic department and field of study that made up the Humanities? Not unless I wanted to put him in a coma. I said, "Well, I took a job in the Humanities to make people more human." And then we both laughed.

I've used that a response line for a while now, but it is, of course, a bit flippant.

So I was thrilled to discover that 4humanities and the UCL Centre for Digital Humanities have developed an awesome and informative manifesto about why the Humanities matter. It's fantastically readable and usable -- charts, graphs, and statistics are insanely helpful -- and helps quantify the benefits of the Humanities, especially in professional fields that might surprise you. It cogently explains how the Humanities make us better humans and the world a better place to live.

Just follow the hyperlink to discover why "The Humanities Matter!"