The Heart of the Matter

Continuing the National Dialogue on the Humanities

Maryland Humanities continues to join the call for a renewed commitment to the humanities outlined by the 2013 national report, The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, and Secure Nation. The report was commissioned by a bipartisan group of legislators – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), and Rep. David Price (D-NC) – and prepared by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The report argues that reinvigorating the humanities is essential to achieving three vital national goals:

  • Educating Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy.
  • Fostering a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.
  • Equipping the nation for leadership in an interconnected world.

The humanities promote these goals by cultivating critical reasoning, empathy, creativity, curiosity, flexibility, and knowledge of history, civics, languages, and other cultures, among others.

To learn more: download a summary of the report or access the full report

Video

Actor John Lithgow discusses The Heart of the Matter and the importance of the humanities.

A 2013-2014 lecture about his new storytelling project and the importance of the arts and humanities.
  • “Lifelong learning is a philosophy, practice, and lifestyle that I’ve long advocated for in both my professional and personal lives. In the rapid pace, constantly changing, technological, social, and cultural environments we find ourselves in, a continuous adjustment to change is necessary. Lifelong learning is essential to understanding where we’ve been, where we are, and where we want to go, both as individuals and as a society.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • Humanities help everyone learn about common and universal themes from diverse groups of people. They can help build peace and understanding in the world.

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • Humanities matter because humanity matters. The best thoughts, the highest questions, the most profound actions of courage and sacrifice are found in written accounts, art, and creative expressions throughout the ages. To study the humanities is to study oneself in a way that develops cultural literacy, critical thinking, and emotional intelligence.

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “[Humanities] are the gateway to our souls, and to understanding each other. They enable us to avoid repeating our mistakes, and are a tool for teaching compassion.”

    ​​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “[The humanities] are what allow us to see the beauty of the world. I often think that humans are the only species that can reflect on how beautiful the world is, can step back and take intense delight in the sounds and colors of it all, can record not only the world but our reactions to it. The humanities matter because beauty matters.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “Humanities are stories of human endeavor. They are at the root of who we are as human beings. The humanities matter because the better we understand and appreciate each other’s cultural and creative foundations the stronger we all become. We then have the ability to work together to solve the problems we all face.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “The humanities allow us to learn about lives and experiences that are different than our own through compelling and engrossing experiences.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “Humanities are the core of everything. You cannot be a good scientist or computer programmer, if you cannot communicate clearly with others and understand others. Humanities studies and scholarships are the essential element in learning how to relate to each other AND how to better communicate with one another.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “[Lifelong learning] means that we are forever students, constantly discovering, researching, exploring, and challenging ourselves.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “[The humanities] provide us with tools and perspectives to analyze and interpret social phenomena with different lenses; they open up perspectives we may not have thought about and help us look at issues in more empathic ways.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
  • “Lifelong learning is continuing to read, listen, learn, share ideas, discuss, and be enlightened by the great ideas and events of the human experience during the course of an entire life.”

    ​Maryland Humanities survey participant
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Maryland Humanities is a statewide, educational nonprofit organization that creates and supports educational experiences in the humanities that inspire all Marylanders to embrace lifelong learning, exchange ideas openly, and enrich their communities.
Maryland Humanities
108 West Centre Street
Baltimore, Maryland 21201-4565
(410) 685-0095
(410) 685-0795 fax
info@mdhumanities.org
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