Batt, James R. (ed.) / Wisconsin Academy review
Volume 20, Number 4 (Fall 1974)
Najem, Robert E.
The Wisconsin Humanities Committee: what's it all about?, pp. 25-26
The Wisconsin Humanities I, Cmmittee: 'hats It Al I By Robert E. Najem This is the second of a series of three articles dealing with programs and opportunities in the humanities in Wisconsin. It's all about a very timely and much needed program. We've had Head Start, Title I, poverty pro- grams, welfare agencies, crime legislation, and on and on. Many of these programs with noble ob- jectives and sometimes poor exe- cution have left us bewildered, frustrated, questioning, and per- haps even cynical. So why do we come along with another Federal project, this time from the National Endowment for the Humanities? Simply because most programs have been work- ing too much on the problems and not enough with people. We have to address ourselves now to the attitudes, v a 1 u e s, ideals, goals, and social priorities we involve Robert E. Najem is director of the National Humanities Series: Midwestern Center in Madison and serves on the Wisconsin Humanities Committee. in making decisions. And that is what the Wisconsin Humanities Committee is all about. It is an expression of trust in people, in discussion, and in the democratic process. It is not so much an at- tempt to solve problems per se as it is an attempt to get everyone possible p r o b in g contemporary public policy issues with a human- istic perspective. It's all about the humanities as they relate to public policy issues. But what are these humanities of which we hear so much and really know so little? Language, litera- ture, philosophy to be sure. But we can also add the social sciences if their central concern is the study of man. Anthropology and ar- chaeology are easily a part of the definition if the focus is on how humans in the past have devel- oped their cultures and life styles. Let's not forget religion and juris- prudence while we are at it. The humanities have to do with man then, with a study of man's char- acter and spirit, experiences and environment, ideas and values, problems and challenges. We are talking about people as rational, spiritual, and living beings. We are talking about the human in the word humanities. It's all about humanists too. The Wisconsin Humanities Com- mittee is attempting to help hu- manists focus their expertise on public policy issues. Professional humanists are always engaged in asking the great philosophical questions, pondering the meander- ings of history, or analyzing thp great works of literature. They help us understand not only the past, but also its importance in the present. We are not talking just about Durant, Toynbee, or Trilling, but are including the many humanists in all our uni- versities and colleges. About ? 25
Copyright 1974 by the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters.| For information on re-use, see http://digital.library.wisc.edu/1711.dl/Copyright