Why Do We Need the Humanities?

Wednesday, March 18, 2015
Humanities Writ Large

The editors of The Conversation asked four former university presidents – of Clemson University, University of Florida, University of Wisconsin and Virginia Tech – to give their perspectives on the ongoing "attack on the humanities."

J. Bernard Machen, President Emeritus at the University of Florida cites three purposes of a university education: "helping one understand who they are and what excites and motivates them; helping understand one’s relationship to the greater world; and, also, becoming prepared for a job."

Charles Steger, President Emeritus at Virginia Tech, explains that "[t]he world is beset with complex and often intractable problems where unfortunately sub-optimization is often the best possible outcome. Problem solving and the effective application of these solutions require that multiple dimensions of the human intellect be employed."

Kevin Reilly, President Emeritus and Regent Professor at University of Wisconsin-Madison, cautions that "[b]ecause of the overwhelming jumble of information and misinformation that surrounds us, a citizen without the kind of rangy mind the liberal arts cultivate is likely to have her citizenship hijacked."

Read the entire posting.