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  • Writer's pictureBianca Paola Gonzalez

What the Humanities Bring to the Table

A little insight on why the Humanities are important.

Faculty of Humanities, University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus

Hello everyone!

As someone who majored in a field within the Humanities, I thought I’d shed some light with you today on what the Humanities are and what they bring to the table.

Although there are various definitions of what the Humanities are, they all agree that its core and focus are humans: their mind, methods, behavior, and culture. Just like the Social Sciences, the Humanities “teach us how people have created their world, and how they in turn are created by it,” according to The British Academy for Humanities & Social Sciences.

As for the fields within the Humanities, The National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, includes: linguistics, jurisprudence, archaeology, comparative religion, and ethics. Each field within the Humanities has massive benefits and contributions that are both important and necessary. Today I’m highlighting some of the things that the arts, history, literature, philosophy, and languages bring to the table.

The arts, such as visual and performing arts, are not just a form of entertainment. They help us develop imagination, creativity, critical thinking, and they strengthen our communication and social skills. Because they encourage freedom of expression, the arts boost our self-confidence and self-esteem. The arts teach us about discipline, commitment, focus, and teamwork. They also lead us to find our voices and create our own thoughts about world. Oftentimes, they’re a representation of life which helps us build a sense of identity, sensibility, and empathy.

History teaches us about the past and how to analyze it critically in order for us to understand our present and create a better future. It also tests our morals and helps us to understand our culture and our identity as individuals and a society.

Literature encompasses all of the Humanities and it documents their past, present, and even their future. Without it, I don’t think we would have the Humanities. However, literature also develops critical thinking, expands our vocabulary and strengthens our reading and writing skills. Similar to history, it teaches us about the past and the societies who lived in it. In addition, it allows us to go beyond the text and transport ourselves to a different historical or fantastical world, thus expanding our imagination and creativity.

Philosophy is the field that seems to be most undermined and viewed as unnecessary. However, it actually helps us to look at things far beyond what they seem and ask the right questions since they rely on logic and reason. Its students develop problem solving skills, as well as deep analytical thinking which is useful in different aspects of our lives.

Lastly, languages teach us, not only how to communicate with people from many places, but about different cultures, which results in learning how to be tolerant, empathetic, respectful, and aware of our egocentric mentality as it expands our view of the world.

I believe the Humanities do something very special. As “human” is its focus, the qualities and skills you acquire from studying within this field will have the potential to make us better human beings, which I think the world needs right now.

It needs more people who can resolve their conflicts peacefully, talk about their disagreements respectfully, and treat others kindly. The world needs people who can vote smarter, lead better, and love themselves and others deeper. It also needs people who don’t see differences as inferior but every color, shape, and size as equally prettier. The world needs people who strive to do better and be better. If you take a look around, you’ll see that some of things the world lacks, the Humanities can supply. And as Ghandi once said, “you must be the change you wish to see in the world.”

Let’s start with ourselves, by striving to be better humans and by finding the beat that will make us dance to the rhythm of a better tomorrow...because that's what the Humanities bring to the table. ;)



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