Change the world to what?

The humanities are frequently dismissed as useless. Yet we at GreenHouse have come to believe there is virtually no discipline better suited to solving the world’s toughest challenges.

This isn’t because of any one particular thing that students of humanities know. On the contrary, it’s because of their feel for the unknown and uncertain, for the shifting terrain of the human condition where one finds the root of all social problems.

“Every time I hear the phrase ‘Change the world,'” Howell Malham Jr. said, “I think ‘Change the world to what?’ The humanities can help us figure out what to change the world to.”

We first uncovered this hidden power in a project with the state humanities councils of Illinois and Indiana. We explored the idea further in our work with Humanities Without Walls, training doctoral students at 15 research universities.