Arts and the Humanities
As humans, our brains are wired for creativity, curiosity, and contemplation. Artistic and humanistic pursuits come naturally and are part of all of our lives.
The term ' humanities' is most often used in higher education, where it refers to the academic disciplines, like history and literature, that study aspects of human society and culture. Since Wisconsin Humanities was founded in 1972, we have been part of a national movement that developed something new, called the “public humanities.” The public humanities bring together the knowledge and methods of the academic humanities with the ways that people and communities think about our histories, beliefs, and values in everyday life. Most importantly, the public humanities are not about research. Public humanities programs are about actively putting this collaborative thinking to work to explore our histories and cultures and make our lives better!
The arts and humanities go hand-in-hand!
We can build walls around 'the arts' and 'the humanities,' however nothing in the real world is so black-and-white. When it comes to our mission, to strengthen our democracy through educational and cultural programs that build connections and understanding among people of all backgrounds and beliefs throughout the state, we are more interested in breaking down walls than building them.
The things we call 'the arts' (like theater, dance, music, and visual art forms) are intertwined with, and often influenced by, the things we call 'the humanities.'
To keep it simple, we sometimes say that 'the arts' are the doing part; 'the humanities are talking about it.' This can be particularly useful for understanding our grant program.