April 9, 2013
Past/Present/Future: Humanities Innovation

When most people hear the word “innovation” they think science/technology. But, humanists are innovative as well!


Since humans invented languages, we have been participating in the humanities. The humanities cover a wide range of topics, but the important overarching theme that ties the subjects together is a reflection on the human condition. Early thinkers, like Aristotle, Pythagoras, and Herodotus theorized, observed, wrote, and taught about the world they lived in. Eventually, these kinds of reflections led to some innovative ideas about equality, progress, inventions, medicine, and society.

Our entire society is the product of generations of innovative thinkers, writers, and lecturers.


Many enthusiasts enjoy the humanities, but the field is currently in crisis due to funding changes and increased pressure on educational institutions. This requires us to re-think how we explain the value of the field. Some humanists point to the growing role of institutions as public advocates while a number of humanists are declaring that the digital humanities will save us. Regardless, it is an innovative period for the humanities as we attempt to redefine our importance and position for all people in a fast-paced and financially-strapped world.

How do you see the humanities best enhancing our modern world?


Some humanists believe the digital turn holds great promise. Other professionals think that embracing the digital will dilute the humanities. The only thing guaranteed is that our world and circumstances will continue to change as we think, read and talk in news ways.

How do you see the humanities playing a role in your life in the future? How does this affect our state’s competitive advantage?


In April and May, Indiana Humanities is exploring the topic of “innovation,” as part of its Spirit of Competition theme. This post was written by Jenny Kalvaitis, an intern for Indiana Humanities and a Master’s candidate in Public History at IUPUI. 

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