A Scientist advocates for the humanities

I recently joined an international collective of digital humanities scholars called 4humanities who are advocating the importance of the humanities; especially in terms of why departments should not be cut; primarily in North America and Europe where the recession is biting hard into budgets and testing the intellectual courage of university leaders.  In Australia, the humanities have also suffered for many years; primarily due to the reckless increase of ‘capitalist practicality’.  This letter posted on the site today by Gregory A Petsko is heartening:

One of the things I’ve written about is the way genomics is changing the world we live in. Our ability to manipulate the human genome is going to pose some very difficult questions for humanity in the next few decades, including the question of just what it means to be human. That isn’t a question for science alone; it’s a question that must be answered with input from every sphere of human thought, including – especially including – the humanities and arts. Science unleavened by the human heart and the human spirit is sterile, cold, and self-absorbed. It’s also unimaginative: some of my best ideas as a scientist have come from thinking and reading about things that have, superficially, nothing to do with science. If I’m right that what it means to be human is going to be one of the central issues of our time, then universities that are best equipped to deal with it, in all its many facets, will be the most important institutions of higher learning in the future. (Read full letter.)

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