The mission of Humanities Nebraska is to help people explore what connects us and makes us human.
Our vision: Nebraskans possess the knowledge, understanding, and empathy to cultivate a more informed, thoughtful, and just society.
Our guiding principles:
- We believe that culture and connection are essential rights of human expression.
- We value conversation that respects difference and finds points of common experience.
- We provide inclusive opportunities to learn from the past to enrich our future.
- We expose people to other worlds of expression and human existence.
- We celebrate shared histories and diverse cultures.
- We develop engaging experiences for all Nebraskans.
- We are flexible and responsive to the changing and pressing needs of Nebraskans.
- We foster lives of purpose and meaning.
Making connections for 50 years
Humanities Nebraska was established as a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973. Over the last five decades, Humanities Nebraska programming has evolved and expanded to include:
- Grants to nonprofit organizations conducting public humanities programs
- A Speakers Bureau with more than 250 humanities programs available
- Chautauqua with scholars portraying historic figures
- Capitol Forum on America’s Future for high school students
- Prime Time Family Reading Time, a reading and discussion program
- Nebraska Warrior Writers, a workshop for veterans and active duty military led by professional instructors
- Museum on Main Street exhibitions from the Smithsonian
- Governor’s Lecture in the Humanities, an event bringing a prominent humanities speaker to Nebraska every year
- Nebraska History Day, a year-long education program that engages students in grades 6-12 in the process of discovery and interpretation of historical topics, co-sponsored with Nebraska Wesleyan University
There are two organizations that fall under the Humanities Nebraska umbrella — the Nebraska Humanities Council is the entity that conducts programs and makes grants. The Nebraska Foundation for the Humanities works with the Council to secure private funding and advocate for public funding at the state and federal levels to support these programs. A third organization, the Nebraska Cultural Endowment, serves as the endowment for both Humanities Nebraska and the Nebraska Arts Council, a state agency.
Why Is the Study of the Humanities So Important?
“The principal rationale for humanities studies is, and will probably always remain, that they enhance the meaning of life. This rationale is so powerful that it, too, easily obscures the utilitarian case which is also compelling. Hence, on Capitol Hill, we have been stressing the importance of the humanities both to creating jobs and to understanding national security problems. How can we compete in our own markets if we don’t understand our own culture, or abroad if we don’t understand foreign languages, histories, and traditions? How can we contain prejudice and counter forces of hatred if we don’t come to know more about each other?
Official Definition of the Humanities:
“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation 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.”
–National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, as amended
The humanities are how we explore who we are collectively, and individually, and what it means to be human through reading, learning, thinking, questioning, and discussing.