How can things evolve without some sort of movement or shift? In “Humanities on the Move” Jamil Zainaldin talks about the idea of the Humanities being at risk while simultaneously disproving the same. Yes, he points out, “the humanities is at risk compared to our colleagues in STEM fields” given the increase in federal funding towards the STEM fields and the decrease in the Humanities but does this really mean that the Humanities field as a whole is in risk? Nope! As he continues to point out, people are interested in the Humanities because they are “part of daily cultural existence”.
He goes onto make the argument that the Humanities are very much alive by using the Georgia Roots Music Festival which took place in downtown Atlanta in January of 2014 as an example. Yes, a lot of people showed up to this event and were interested in the topic at hand, but there are many other festivals, exhibits and the like that go barely noticed by the community. My initial reaction was to be a cynic and disagree with Zainaldin “the Humanities are at risk”, I thought but then I remembered that I helped curate an exhibit last fall 2016 about the Newark Riots of 1967 and 1974. Our opening was relatively small and the turnout was decent, people were very interested in our chosen topic but aside from questions regarding the riots I had quite a few people ask if the exhibit was available online or at least in digital form.
So here is my big question…Why is the federal funding decreasing when the field is not dead but moving in a different direction? Yes, when people think of Humanities their first thoughts may be: museums, historical societies, cultural organizations, etc. But the internet has now facilitated another realm where the Humanities can be explored and showcased. So why can’t the Federal Government get with the times and realize that to be able to give way for the field to be accessible and successful online it needs funding? Lots of it, while we’re at it.
Yes, the STEM fields are important and should be generously funded but the Humanities are important too! Culture, history, traditions, folklore need to be preserved and passed on to those who may have little to no knowledge of them, otherwise, how could we have a well rounded society? There’s more than enough room to be both technically and culturally educated. I guess not enough money, though.
side note: I wanted to add quite a few more question marks and write my big question in all caps. For the sake of being “professional” and “academic” I digressed.