The Value of the Humanities

Here’s an essay on the subject of the humanities — their current state in our culture, and their value to us as a subject of study and means of understanding the world — by one of my favorite essayists, Veryln Klinkenborg. Published on 22 June 2013 (my birthday), it’s a thoughtful reflection on the perceived decline of the humanities in our technology- and consumption-obsessed society, and why good writing and clear thinking still matter greatly.

Klinkenborg, who for a long time wrote weekly op-ed pieces for the New York Times entitled “The Rural Life” — short little impressionistic essays, the form and style of which I greatly admire — inspired some thoughtful letters in response to his June 22nd essay. As someone who has long taught a general education undergraduate seminar in the humanities to adult students at Roosevelt University, I recognize the value infusing all subjects of study — from business to science to hospitality management — with the insights, skills, and analysis nurtured within the humanities, broadly conceived.

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