environmental humanities

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What are the Humanities ?

Including such areas of study as Philosophy, Literature, Religion, Music and Art, the Humanities is that sphere of intellectual inquiry that seeks answers, however incomplete, to the central questions of the meaning of human life. The Humanities interprets these answers as they emerge from the classical and modern products of human experience, from religious rituals, from symphonies, from novels, or from ethical codes, for example. The Humanities is the realm where values compete, where scholars compare them, and evaluate their significance. Ultimately, the Humanities seeks the clarity of wisdom gained through a disciplined engagement and nuanced examination of oneself and others.

The nature of this engagement revolves around critical thinking, around, that is, asking questions, evaluating assumptions, and analyzing beliefs. This critical thought process is stimulated by facing the historical and cross-cultural diversity of human experience (the basic material of interest for the Humanities). As we encounter novel ideas or opinions, surprising past events, or different people and cultures, we are challenged to reflect upon what we know, to assess what we think, and to judge why we think it.

Confronting diversity in this way feeds the imagination and inspires creativity. Consequently, studying the Humanities likewise involves expressing the results of critical thought. It requires us to write, speak and create (perhaps visually or musically) for a wider intellectual community. It asks that we defend the insights and views born of our studies, that we seek to persuade, but also that we be open to persuasion. Overall, the Humanities demands disciplined thought, clear articulation, and cooperative discussion.

The Castle Rock Institute Environmental Studies program aims to help students understand the complex connections between nature and their own humanity, and thereby to meet better the complex judgments that life and work present.

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