Reinvent the Humanities to Change the World

What is the role of the humanities in creating a sustainable and interconnected future?


The value of the humanities in the modern world has prompted numerous debates, struggles for resources, and tensions between disciplines inside higher education.

Georgetown’s Designing the Future(s) of the University Initiative, in collaboration with the new media startup Reinvent, is developing a series of high profile conversations that open up this discussion beyond academia. Last year, we asked leading scholars, innovators in the private sector, and working practitioners of the humanities to share their thoughts on the role the humanities can play in creating a sustainable and interconnected future. This March, we will be conducting a series of interviews at Georgetown, addressing six key topics related to the future of the humanities.

The in-depth video conversations we have conducted so far are available to the public on the web. Our goals in these interviews and future interviews include:

  • Shedding fresh light on the vital role of the humanities in helping to address the mounting challenges of our time.
  • Deepening the appreciation of the value of the humanities in an increasingly technological era.
  • Identifying examples and emergent practices that point the way toward a future where the humanities play a visible, crucial role in the world.
  • Developing potential principles and action items, both in and out of the academy, to accelerate change.

Humanities and Climate Change

What is the role of the humanities in helping individuals and communities collaboratively address complex global challenges? How do the humanities allow us to engage with large-scale, multi-disciplinary problems such as political and religious conflict or climate change?

Humanities and Artificial Intelligence/Big Data

What can the humanities teach us about a human’s unique purpose, strengths, and challenges in a world increasingly powered by non-human technologies? How can the humanities lead to new ways of thinking about human connection, community, creativity, and work?

Humanities in a Post-Truth/ Post-Fact World

How are the humanities fundamental to centering the importance of facts in our current political and media landscape? What is the role of the humanities in a “post-truth” world?

Humanities in a Divided Nation/World

What can the humanities do to facilitate dialogue and breach the divide between people with opposing political beliefs? How can the humanities move us past ideological warfare and towards increasing the wellbeing of people around the world?

Humanities and Securing Human Rights/Dignity

Where are the practices and approaches that indicate the crucial value of the humanities in global and local problem-solving? How might a humanities practitioner play a distinctive role on an interdisciplinary team trying to secure humans rights and dignity?

A Distinctive Georgetown Vision for the Humanities

How can we best raise the profile of the humanities in general and strengthen its impact in the coming decades? What are the implications of this broadened role of the humanities for higher education, government policy, and philanthropy?

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