What Are the Humanities?
As the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), Oklahoma Humanities is mandated to provide the citizens of Oklahoma with opportunities to learn about the human experience through programs based on humanities disciplines. These disciplines include subjects such as: history, language, literature, film studies, art history and criticism, archaeology, jurisprudence, ethics, and philosophy.
The Value of the Humanities
It is through the study of these disciplines that we gain knowledge and understanding—in a word, wisdom. In the founding legislation for the NEH in 1965, Congress stressed that “Democracy demands wisdom and vision in its citizens.” The humanities are a vehicle to understanding the human experience—the diverse history, traditions, and cultures of the world. It is only through this quest for understanding that we cultivate the wisdom and vision that democracy demands.
The Vital Role of Oklahoma Humanities
In the face of increasing global divisiveness and misunderstanding, the need for a nonprofit such as ours becomes even more pronounced. We recognize the critical necessity for people to learn, understand, think, communicate, and make connections with others. In a world so complex that it daily becomes more challenging to understand, it becomes more imperative for us all to be informed and recognize our place and importance within the larger picture.
Can Oklahomans vote knowledgeably in public elections? Can we help to right the wrongs of previous generations whose racial discrimination and violence tore at the heart of society? Can we address the very core values of humanity that allow us to live in a global society while exhibiting tolerance and understanding? The answer is yes, and the work of Oklahoma Humanities can assist by helping us all to be aware, informed, and able to take action.
Through the grants and programs offered by Oklahoma Humanities, we can connect with past generations that faced similar trials and felt the same emotions as we. We learn from them through the written word and oral traditions, and we reflect on their solutions to the problems that have plagued mankind through the ages. We laugh at our own foibles when we recognize them in others. We read the poems of our contemporaries and marvel at their insight. Education through the humanities not only teaches us what it is to be human but also what is necessary to become our best selves.
We cannot make the world a better place for ourselves and others if we operate in a vacuum. We are not alone on this planet. We share a humanity that enables us to feel empathy and that urges us to live our lives as a community. This is the change in quality of life for which we as a state humanities council strive…opportunities for thoughtful and informed reflection.
The community of those involved with learning through the humanities is a special one, one of power and necessity and one that truly does make a difference.