Humanities Get to the Heart of the Matter

Article excerpt

The Hawai'i Council for the Humanities (HCH) joins in the call for a renewed commitment to the humanities as outlined in a new national report, "The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive and Secure Nation."

The bipartisan report advances a dialogue on the importance of the humanities and social sciences to the future of our country.

What are the humanities and why should we care?

The humanities include the study of history, literature, religion, philosophy and the arts. They remind us of where we have been and help us envision where we are going. They are not esoteric subjects reserved for those in institutions of higher learning. Rather they help all of us understand what it means to be human; to reflect on and grapple with age-old questions such as,"Who am I?" "Why am I here?" and "Where am I going?"

"The Heart of the Matter" report lists three goals for advancing the humanities:

-- Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills and understanding we need to thrive in a 21st-century democracy.

-- Foster a society that is innovative, competitive and strong.

-- Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world.

These are lofty goals, but meaningless unless we develop concrete strategies to accomplish them.

The report recommends supporting literacy, investing in civic education, increasing access to online resources and supporting partnerships that promote lifelong learning, such as museums, libraries and cultural institutions.

Along with visionary leadership, hard work, good will and institutional cooperation, accomplishing these goals will require money. The report recommends increased federal funding to the humanities, including support for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and state humanities councils like HCH. …