The Humanities Project, an endeavor dedicated to funding humanistic research by UR faculty, has recently been allocated $100,000 more to its current annual budget of $150,000.
According to its website, the Humanities Project strives to “showcase some of the best and most up-to-date research dedicated to the critical examination of the documents and objects that reflect the meaningful past and present of humankind.”
This endeavor encourages interdisciplinary proposals and the exploration of inquiries relating to subjects in the humanities.
“One of the principle things is being able to do collaborative works with small mediums and large-scale projects,” Dean for Humanities and Interdisciplinary Studies Tom DiPiero said.
President Joel Seligman committed $150,000 to the Humanities Project in 2006 through the President Venture Fund. DiPiero cited the “Robin Hood: Media Culture” project as a great accomplishment of the Humanities Project, in which the George Eastman House helped restore a silent film.
“It couldn’t have been possible without the President’s support,” DiPiero said, adding that he anticipates even more “improvements in undergraduate and graduate studies” with the additional support.
However, the recent attention to the humanities may have affected many students’ views of the University as it is a research institution predominantly focused on the natural sciences.
Freshman chemical engineering major Subhrajit Debnath said he feels “apathetic towards this new funding” but questions “whether the humanities are as important as the natural sciences.”
In response, freshman Tristan Ford noted a blurring between disciplines.
“[People] probably don’t realize how broad the humanities are and how valuable those skills are for science majors, especially in today’s world where everything’s specialized,” Ford said. “People need to be able to communicate well with others outside of [their] disciplines.”
Junior and political science major Keyu Song also defended the humanities, making a point to take courses from the social sciences, humanities, and natural sciences to gain skills applicable to his major and future.
“[The] humanities are unique in terms of how it is a long-term investment,” Song said. “In particular, language and cultural knowledge are essential comprehensive tools to build strong relationships.”
DiPiero agreed, emphasizing that the humanities are more important now than ever before.
“We’ve reached a point where we need to think about how people think and learn [about] what’s meaningful in the past and for themselves,” DiPiero said. “If we don’t investigate and research human pasts, we will not be able to survive.”
Lee is a member of the class of 2017.