What Are the Humanities For?

What Are the Humanities For? Book cover

What Are the Humanities For?

What are the humanities for? The question has perhaps never seemed more urgent. While student numbers have grown in higher education, universities and colleges increasingly have encouraged students to opt for courses in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) or take programs in applied subjects like business and management. When tertiary learning has taken such a notably utilitarian turn, the humanities are judged to have lost their centrality.

Willem B. Drees has no wish nostalgically to prioritize the humanities so as to retrieve some lost high culture. But he does urge us to adopt a clearer conception of the humanities as more than just practical vehicles for profit or education. He argues that these disciplines, while serving society, are also intrinsic to our humanity. His bold ideas about how to think with greater humanistic coherence mark this topical book out as unmissable reading for all those involved in academe, especially those in higher educational policy or leadership positions. To appear with Cambridge University Press, April 2021.

What Are the Humanities For? envisages the humanities as a diverse but coherent domain of scholarship. The humanities offer insight into others and oneself. Examples from theology and religious studies make clear why they are challenging.

Willem B. Drees is a philosopher of the humanities and of religion. He is a former academic dean and an elected member of the Royal Holland Society of Sciences and Humanities (KHMW). He twice received a Fulbright Grant.