The traditional humanities disciplines—classics, literature, history, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts—were core disciplines in the first university in western civilization, Plato’s Academy. Since that time the humanities have remained core disciplines in all higher education while other areas of study have had changing significance in the university. The continued presence of humanities scholarship attests to its fundamental relevance to our lives.
The humanities raise questions that help us understand our roots, our present situation, and the options available to us. The humanities expand familiarity with cultural tradition and change; they encourage the development of critical thinking, effective expression of ideas and emotions, and informed responses to current issues and problems. Successful societies across time and place have relied on citizens who possess these skills.