What are the Humanities?

The humanities–history, philosophy, literature, law, anthropology, archaeology, comparative religions, and art history and criticism–are the tools with which human beings understand themselves and their world. They help us comprehend the past and put the present within a larger context. Perhaps most importantly, they help us develop better ways to shape the future for our children.

The humanities are part of everyday life, belonging to everyone. No one owns Socrates’ ideas, Shakespeare’s words, or the principles of democracy. “We all lead the life of the mind,” Annie Dillard writes. “When we defend our freedom, or our neighbor’s freedom; when we decide how to vote, when we pray, when we debate an issue, and when we fall in love, we are participating in the humanities.”

The Utah Humanities Council empowers individuals and groups to improve their communities through active engagement in the humanities.