The Cavalier Daily
Serving the University Community Since 1890

Celebrating the humanities

Humanities provide students with valuable insight into social issues

The University launched its Humanities Week April 17 with a poetry workshop, roundtable discussion on hunger and a kick-off celebration. The theme of the week, “Living (In)Equality,” offers community members a chance to engage with social issues through artistic expression and interpersonal dialogue — an opportunity seldom granted in an environment which often dismisses the applicability of humanities. Humanities Week demonstrates the significance of these areas of study in understanding and addressing social issues, and the University’s Institute of the Humanities and Global Cultures should be commended for its work.

Humanities constitute a large portion of available areas of study at the University. Ranging from studio art to history, students have the ability to develop a greater understanding of the world through critical thought and engagement with creative content. These areas of study, however, often receive less funding and publicity than other fields such as STEM and commerce. Such subordination of the humanities stems from a belief in the lack of real-world applicability of a humanities education when, in reality, such an education provides a valuable foundation for life beyond the University. Humanities Week, therefore, offers a vital opportunity to showcase that value.

One of the most valuable applications of a humanities education is the exploration of social issues. Humanities Week includes several exhibits that portray the staggering inequality present in the world today. Amongst many forms of artistic expression, these exhibits make use of photography, videography and poetry to shed light on critical aspects of the human condition and bridge gaps between people with different experiences. While STEM and other fields play a crucial role in examining the social issues of today through empirical methods, a humanities portrayal of such issues often elicits a more powerful emotional response from a general audience. Such a response can lead to positive change, and the humanities deserve a platform to accomplish their goals.

Humanities Week offers the University community a valuable opportunity to examine the many facets of inequality throughout the world. The week also shows the invaluable contribution humanities make to the University. Without this celebration, students may not have the chance to fully grasp the role the humanities play in their daily lives.