About Vermont Humanities

What are the Humanities?

Humanities — the branches of learning that investigate human constructs and concerns as opposed to natural processes and social relations.

The humanities include, but are not limited to, the study of:


  • Language — both modern and classical (e.g. French, German, Latin, Arabic, etc.)
  • Linguistics — the study of languages and language systems
  • Literature — writings in prose or verse having an excellence in form or expression and expressing ideas of permanent or universal interest
  • History — a chronological record of significant events (as affecting a nation or institution) often including an explanation of their causes
  • Jurisprudence — a system or body of law; the science or philosophy of law.
  • Philosophy — a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means.
  • Archaeology — the scientific study of material remains (as fossil relics, artifacts, and monuments) of past human life and activities.
  • Comparative religion — the comparison of personal sets or institutionalized systems of attitudes, beliefs, and practices having to do with the service and worship of a god or gods or the supernatural.
  • Ethics — the discipline dealing with what is good and bad and with moral duty and obligation.
  • The history, criticism, and theory of the artsthe intellectual study of the literary, visual, or performing arts, as opposed to their creation or presentation. For example, a theatrical performance is an art; a related discussion about the history and cultural significance of the play would fall under the humanities. Writing a novel is an art; exploring the context of that novel and the writing process with, for example, aspiring writers, qualifies as a humanities discipline.
  • Those aspects of social sciences (economics, political science, psychology, etc.) that have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods.
  • The study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.