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The Role of the Humanities: Talking Points (2006)

Through critical thinking, expressive culture, historical perspective, and the command of language (both verbal and visual), the Humanities offer forums for exploring our social and personal worlds, assessing and experimenting with ideas and values, and developing our sense of self and place in society. These resources are the essential basis of circumspect and ethical action at a time in human history when both are greatly needed.

  • Enduring values of the Humanities are basic to social life. Simultaneously contemporary and traditional, forward-looking and fundamental, they are essential to everyone’s education.
  • Examining the greatest and the most representational products of the human mind, Humanities develop and refine critical thinking, providing the ability to construct effective and principled assessments of the issues composing our modern world.
  • Humanities attend to historical and cultural variation and diversity, offering valuable multiple perspectives on the situations we confront in life.
  • Humanities examine perception and the ways we create and manipulate meaning, value, and emotional impact from our experiences with people, objects, art, language, and ideologies.
  • Humanities expand our potential for creativity. Joining tradition and innovation, they enhance our ability to engage the world in fruitfully enterprising ways.

These roles and goals are reflected in the wealth and high quality of Humanities teaching and scholarship at Indiana University, Bloomington. There are over forty-five Humanities departments, programs, centers, institutes, and archives in the College. Seventy-five languages and cultures are taught within the College.