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Defining the Humanities and the Social Sciences

The Humanities

According to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, the humanities include, but are not limited to, the study of the following: “language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and 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.”

The Social Sciences

A broadly accepted definition of “the social sciences” is “the branches of study that deal with humans in their social relations, including economics, anthropology, political science, psychology, and sociology.”

The humanities and social sciences are the key to critical thinking and complex reasoning and writing skills.

They are also central to:
  • Preparation to participate effectively in civic life
  • General preparation for entry into the work force
  • Teaching and performing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM)

In addition, study in the humanities and social science is a critical component for national security, including advanced language study, understanding foreign cultures, and analyzing foreign issues.