What can we usefully say about the past many months, as we live through plague times?
While there has been so much turmoil and disruption, so much suffering and loss, one thing has become very clear indeed: How vitally important, how critical and necessary, the arts and Humanities really are. Could any of us have gotten through lockdowns without stories, and music, and art of all sorts? Would any of us have survived at all without the capacity to consider other human beings as our fellows, and to think of their stories and values and trajectories? This commitment to the human spirit and needs is what the arts and Humanities do, and we’re needed now more than ever.
Brock is one of the few universities in Canada (only three, in fact) to have a Faculty of Humanities, and we should take considerable pride in this. That means that many decades ago this university made a commitment to the study, consideration, and promotion of those disciplines that focus on the individual human and the human spirit: the stories of individual people, the relationships we have and have had, the triumphs and disasters as they effect one person at a time – rather than large groups or populations. The Humanities are the disciplines where one person matters, and where we acknowledge a spirit that affects and is affected by the mechanisms and movements that other disciplines study. We search for both facts and truth, and struggle with the difference. And in facing facts and truths that are often ugly, we are not daunted by them, but press forward – and sometimes create great beauty from the confusion. This is what we research and teach, and this is also what is to be found in the creative work of the members of the Faculty.
But we are creatures of the day-to-day, and the practical as well, and the Humanities serve all aspects of life. When students come to university and are considering areas of study, there is, quite naturally, always a concern about the careers that students will have when they leave their post-secondary education. There is nothing to fear, and much to be excited about, in choosing to study the Humanities. Our contribution to the careers our students will have lies within what we teach about individual humans, about creativity, about truth and beauty. It lies in the skills students develop in argumentation and communication, in researching and finding both facts and truth. And it lies in the resources students develop through their studies in the arts & Humanities that help them, and have helped them, cope in troubled times.
For the sake of the world and your own future: Choose Humanity. Choose Humanities. Choose Brock Humanities.
Carol U. Merriam, PhD
Dean, Faculty of Humanities