4Humanities & Radio Liu


4Humanities.org and Alan Liu Radio interview

I had a few thoughts after looking over the Alan Liu ( and friends ) inspired 4Humanities.org website, which coincided with me listening to his radio interview with KCSB-FM addressing some perception issues humanities have been facing. Liu spoke of a few interactive initiatives like the plain English endeavour and the 4 humanities website and explained the reasons behind the websites ‘shout out’ contest idea. They are it seems a PR exercise for the discipline.  And I suppose that is what in reality it really needs at this time. The arts and humanities I would imagine having been living in a silo of their own making. It is possibly well overdue that they should create an outreach project and connect with a wider audience.  

Regarding the humanities surviving the real economic worries of ordinary people and where this places the arts in relation to this? I agree with Liu that no career is straightforward and an education in the humanities is a very helpful friend on life’s path. The science and technology sector and courses related to these seem to be the favoured ones in society today. Our own governments frequently make statements to the effect that we need more maths expertise and more IT expertise to fill jobs in the tech sectors. I haven’t heard any government arguing for more liberal arts students to fill jobs in humanities-based roles.This is the hard-nosed edge of business unfortunately and in difficult times governments do not prioritise budgets for humanities.  I do agree with Alan Liu’s response to threats to the arts and it is imperative that the humanities reach out through the medium digital to propel itself into the public’s gaze.

Looking at the infographic on 4humanities.org highlighting all the successful people who studied arts is a bit apologist. I don’t think that the humanities be required to validate its usefulness by pointing to economically successful people, it seems platitudinous. Some of the people used as examples are just glaringly obvious, I mean, of course, JK Rowlings studied the arts. But aside from that, I do comprehend the need to justify oneself in the face of a threat, but maybe just highlighting what the humanities have done for humanity would be enough.