Summer Humanities Symposium in works

Aaron Corpora

Kent State will host “Why the Humanities: Answers from the Cognitive and Neurosciences conference on the importance of the Humanities” July 9-12.

The conference will welcome scholars and teachers from all across the country to learn about the importance of the study of the Humanities, said Mark Bracher, a professor in the English department. This includes departments such as Philosophy, English, Psychology and Sociology.

Invitations have been sent out to hundreds of academics and teachers throughout the country, inviting them to come and learn about the importance of the Humanities in everyday life. Bracher has been organizing the majority of the event.

“The purpose of this conference is to bring together people who are doing research, using tools of the cognitive and neurosciences to understand what kinds of effects engaging with the Humanities have on people’s minds and brains,” Bracher said.

Bracher and English professor Tammy Clewell said studies show that reading for pleasure stimulates the brain in a different way than when you are reading because you are being forced to. The goal of the conference is to show that studying the Humanities can be helpful in areas such as critical thinking, collaboration and self-knowledge.

One thing that the conference also hopes to address is the importance of studying the Humanities, despite the fact that the job market may not be as generous in certain fields as it once was, Clewell said.

“The pressure of explaining what studying the Humanities is good for is in part motivated by the difficulty of the job market,” Clewell said. “Studying things like literature or history or philosophy do not necessarily translate to a particular job that we can label beforehand, unlike if you’re a nursing student and you’re going to become a nurse.”

Even with that being the case, those who are involved with the Humanities see its importance in everyday life. This is why Bracher said he and his team are working so hard to bring in as many people as they possibly can to the conference.

William Kist, associate professor of teaching learning and curriculum studies is behind the promotion and invitations for the event.

“We’ve been contacting hundreds of English teachers grades K-12 who might be interested in a conferences about expert studies of the Humanities,” Kist said.

Tammy Clewell expressed the importance of the Humanities in her eyes.

“You learn how to think in the Humanities. You learn how to solve problems. You learn how to communicate. You have a sense of the present in light of the past. You just have a larger sense of opportunities and possibilities,” Clewell said.

Contact Aaron Corpora at [email protected]