Cover Story: Humanities in the 21st Century


The challenges faced by humanities programs in recent decades have been well documented. Due to declining budgets and a perception that humanities work is “unstrategic” (i.e., it is not typically training for specific career skills), humanities programming has been pronounced dead or on life support more times than we care to count. Legislators and administrators ask us: what is the value of the humanities? Students ask us: where will the humanities take me? We ask ourselves: how do we continue to pursue our meaningful work in the face of so much misinformation about what we do?

In this cover story, we attempt to address some of these questions. We will see through the eyes of four PLU faculty members representing every department in our Humanities Division that humanities work is not so very easy to define. We work in classrooms, yes. We do research and publish, of course. But we also work in the community, we volunteer our time, we take our students abroad, and we challenge our peers across the disciplines, in and beyond the academy, to think more deeply about what they know and how they know it. We hope that you will see this cover story not as a defense but as a celebration of all that the humanities have to offer and proof that the humanities are alive and well.