What are the Public Humanities?
The Glasscock Center aims to be a powerful advocate for the public humanities by facilitating research, communication, and collaboration among researchers at Texas A&M and the broader community. We strive to support and expand existing campus resources that focus on public-facing scholarship, inter-disciplinary communication, teaching, public outreach, and public engagement.
In order to fully understand the goals of the Public Humanities, it is important to define what the humanities, in general are. According to the National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act (1965), the humanities can be defined as follows:
“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”
The public humanities, therefore, are projects and initiatives that expand knowledge explored by the humanities to a broader audience. Such projects may involve collaboration among humanities scholars, scholars of other disciplines, other institutions, undergraduate and graduate students, cultural institutions, community organizations, and the general public. The public humanities provide avenues for open dialogue and inquiry to deepen the understanding and importance of the knowledge and tools the humanities provide. Such projects can pertain to historic preservation, oral history, digital humanities, public art, philosophical inquiry, literature, cultural heritage, and more.
Public humanities are important for both scholars within the humanities as well as the broader community. They encourage scholars to think of their work in relation to the broader public. Public humanities also support collaboration, where different disciplines and people provide different perspectives on the same content, deepening our understanding of complex topics. For the broader community, public humanities create enthusiasm for the humanities and encourage the public to engage in critical thinking, cultural knowledge, and provides tools to help more people reflect about their place within their communities and the world.