Each generation is shaped by the historical context in which their education takes place. By providing us with a fuller understanding of the world and our place in it, the Humanities help us make sense of these larger events. Today's citizens must be prepared to function in a culturally diverse, globally interdependent, and technologically sophisticated world. Yet sadly, our society is suffering from excessive self-interest, growing intolerance, and a decreasing sense of responsibility to one another. The Humanities help remedy these problems by building “democratic capital”. The primary ingredients of democratic capital are social trust (a belief in the reliability of others), political efficacy (the capacity to engage in public life), and democratic tolerance (extending respect to those whose viewpoints differ from one's own). The Humanities promote good judgment in a world of uncertainty, cross-cultural understanding a world of diversity, and integrative thinking in a world of complexity. Technical skills may become obsolete over time, but the democratic capital generated by studying the Humanities will not. While hardly a panacea for our social, economic, and political ills, the Humanities are more important now than ever.
Stephen Woolpert, Saint Mary's College of California, United States
Stream: Political Science
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