What does it mean to be human? To be a member of society, contributing to the human experience? At Longwood, the site of the 2014 Virginia Humanities Conference on March 21-22, a conversation about the humanities is ongoing. Do they matter? Do they contribute to your life? You bet! And here are some thoughts from the Longwood community on how they do just that…

1. Music affects both mind and body.

“There is increasing recognition that music’s effect on the body, the brain and the emotions cannot be separated. Music is central to our very sense of self. Being musical is part of what it means to be human.”

-Dr. Pam McDermott, Assistant Professor of Music

“The more you listen, the more you will hear the everyday music of a child beating on a drum, a trickling stream of water, a chorus of cicadas, the hum of traffic, a heartbeat. For me–as an avid consumer of music, student of the world and human being–music matters profoundly.”

-Dr. Kimberly J. Stern, Assistant Professor of English

Stream GIF

2. History expands your view as a human… and leader.

“History gives you a wider view for miles around–a view beyond your own life into the lives of others and more broadly, into the human condition. Knowing history make you a better human being.”

-Dr. Larissa Fergeson, Associate Professor of History

Sunrise GIF

“People who have an education in history are better-prepared to connect with others from different backgrounds and to provide valuable insight on social and political affairs. These are the sorts of skills that make people suitable to be leaders in their communities.”

-Jaime Clift ’14, History Major

3. Literature makes life less boring and more awesome.

“I can, with some effort, imagine living life without being a reader of literature, but it would be very, very boring. In a word, literature adds life to our lives.”

-Dr. Ken Perkins, Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs

Child laughing while reading

“Literature is well-equipped and eager to take the work of science and put it back into the context of the world, and to bask in the awesomeness of the world, and to make it accessible. …”

-Matt Jacobs ’13, English Major

Woman reads while books pile up behind her GIF

4. Art allows us to be expressive and share ideas.

“Photography is perhaps our universal language of expression and particularly well-suited to convey ideas. This medium allows viewers to look directly at a photographer’s observation and see something in a way words often struggle to do. …”

-Michael Mergen, Assistant Professor of Art

GIF: Lights flash as a photographer takes a picture

“We need art in order to advance our society and ourselves. We need art in order to broaden our horizons. And lastly, we need art in order to stimulate all sections of our brain.”

-Cameron Burns ’16, Art Major

Hand sketches a face

Leave a Comment