Why is studying the humanities—history, literature, languages, philosophy, culture—important? How would you convince your parents, an employer, a politician, or others that there is value in pursuing the humanities?
Those were the questions posed to students across the country by a new contest in response to recent media reports of pessimism about studying the humanities.
Sponsored by 4Humanities.org—a grass roots organization initiated In the U.S., Canada, and England—the competition encouraged undergraduates to make the case for the importance of the humanities in any medium or format for a public audience.
The contest was run by Alan Liu, a professor of English at UC Santa Barbara.
“I remember how hard it was for me in the 1970s to tell my engineer dad that I was going to be an English major,” said Liu, who came up with the idea for the contest.
“Today after the Great Recession, it’s even harder to have such conversations. I hope young people today, no matter what career they want, will be willing to speak up to parents, employers, and politicians about why great societies also need great humanities, and why they personally value the humanities.”
The UC Santa Cruz team of The Gail Project took first prize for Do You Have a Passport?–an essay/memoir about the project written by team member Stella Fronius.