The Humanities disciplines study all the forms we use to examine and interpret the human experience and communicate its meaning -- including the study of languages, cultural forms, literature, history, philosophy and religion. Humanities scholarship helps us to understand our relationship to the past, present, and future.
In relation to the past, collectively various Humanities fields provide accounts of the history of the development of various knowledges and of their context. The Humanities serve as a repository for long, multi-disciplinary, cultural traditions and provide the critical equipment that allows us to see ourselves in time and to see what we take for granted about our times. The Humanities also encourage us to look at things from multiple, different perspectives, which aids in our understanding of how people from different backgrounds may come to different conclusions. Part of that understanding involves placing a premium on self-questioning and self-reflection as essential for understanding the very constitution of our academic disciplines and fields of knowledge.
In relation to the present, Humanities scholars often approach things from an interdisciplinary perspective that can promote critical thinking, critical writing, and critical analysis. A crucial set of skills for our complex, contemporary world, is to be able to think, to communicate, and to listen. Humanities fields promote both critical self-expressions and the critical analysis and interpretation of the expressions of others. Humanities scholarship also often provides the framework for understanding scientific knowledge and data and facilitating consilience, that is, agreement between multiple approaches to a topic that crosses between academic disciplines, for example across science and the humanities.
As for the relevance of the Humanities for the future, the outward-facing dimensions of Humanities scholarship, beyond the academy, are crucial for us to understand and promote at a public university such as Rutgers. Developing the strength and outreach of the public humanities allows us to demonstrate the ethical dimensions of contemporary crises, advancements, and events.