BYU Humanities+ Conference: Liberal arts impact modern world

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BYU’s College of Humanities conference brought experts to campus to refine the Humanities+ initiative to show the value of the liberal arts in a modern education Jan. 30–31.

A professor at BYU College of Humanities' H+ Conference. More than twenty individuals were in attendance. Photo courtesy of Maddi Dayton.
A professor at BYU College of Humanities’ H+ Conference. More than twenty individuals were in attendance. (Photo courtesy of Maddi Dayton)

Tony Brown, associate professor of Russian and a Humanities Center Fellow, believes that the humanities program isn’t just a humanities program; it is something much more.

“This isn’t just about teaching students the humanities so that they can go on and become humanities professors,” Brown said. “It is about giving them space that then enables them to spread their wings and pursue any number of disciplines.”

A recent NY Times article states that interest is fading in the humanities majors in U.S. colleges, but the Humanities+ initiative aims to make the classes part of everyone’s college education.

The main purpose behind Humanities+ is “to provide ideas and resources for bridging the traditional humanities major to the professional work world.”

Professionals from across the nation gathered together at the College of Humanities’ Humanities+ “Advancing Global Dialogue and Initiatives Through Experiential Learning” conference. Although the presentations varied from topics such as humanities in the 21st century to various self-assessment methods, there was a central theme that emerged — students need to understand the importance of learning languages.

“A bachelor’s degree is no longer enough,” said Victoria Baird, a faculty member from BYU’s Germanic and Slavic department. “Being monolingual is not enough anymore. In order to succeed and be marketable in today’s world, you must expose yourself to another language or culture.”

The H+ Conference ended with its participants sharing ways to move forward. Everyone agreed that it was paramount to collectively create various statements proving the humanities market value. Each professional was tasked to brainstorm a short list of the key points. Once the key points are gathered, they will be condensed into a single document, which can then be sent to various influential groups.

BYU’s College of Humanities will publish videos from the conference within the next few days on its YouTube channel.

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