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The Humanities, Humanities Scholars, and Humanities Projects

The Arkansas Humanities Council was established in 1974 to develop a statewide program to acquaint the citizens of Arkansas with the fields of study known as the humanities. These fields of study are concerned with understanding human experiences, ideas, and beliefs. They are bodies of knowledge, methods of gathering information, and ways of thinking, talking, and writing about their subject matter.

The humanities are archeology, comparative religion, ethics and philosophy, history, history and criticism of the arts, history and philosophy of law, languages, literature, and those fields within the social sciences that use historical and philosophical methods. Examples of the latter are cultural anthropology, political science, and some branches of economics, geography, psychology, and sociology. The humanities are not particular philosophies, such as secular humanism, or specific social practices, such as humanitarian efforts to improve society.

Experts in the humanities are known as humanities scholars. They usually gain their expertise through formal education, and through research, writing, and teaching in a humanities field. Humanities scholars usually have advanced degrees, generally a master's degree or a doctoral degree, and are most commonly found on the faculties of colleges and universities. Some are employed by museums, historical societies, government agencies, elementary and secondary schools, and similar organizations and institutions; and some work independently. The important characteristics of humanities scholars are that they are appropriately educated and are recognized by fellow scholars as authorities in their humanities fields.

The Arkansas Humanities Council believes that everyone can benefit from study of the humanities under the guidance of humanities scholars. We provide financial support for well-planned humanities projects that bring Arkansans of all walks of life together with humanities scholars to learn about the humanities.

A few examples of appropriate project formats are community history projects that involve local citizens, reading/discussion groups for public library patrons, workshops on foreign languages and cultures for school teachers, and museum exhibits on topics in Arkansas prehistory or history. There are many others. Our basic aim is to reach as many people as possible who do not normally encounter the humanities in their professions or in study at the college or university level. The council encourages the development of imaginative projects that are suited to particular audiences.

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