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Creative ways people are trying to increase access to the humanities

As the world has become increasingly technology-driven, people have been employing many innovative and creative approaches to bring more attention and increase access to the humanities in ways that were not possible before.

One of the most popular ways individuals and organizations have been making humanities education more accessible is through free online courses in a myriad of different humanities subjects. Academic institutions such as Harvard University, Yale University, and Stanford University are leading the way. For example, Harvard offers over 30 free online humanities courses, ranging from one week in length to a half-year. These courses delve deeper past the traditional humanities focus and into more nuanced subjects. Some courses include PredictionX: Omens, Oracles, and Prophecies, which provides an overview of divination systems from ancient bone burning to modern Astrology; Shakespeare’s Hamlet: The Ghost, which looks at the haunting figure at the heart of one of Shakespeare’s most well-known plays; and Bioethics: The Law, Medicine, and Ethics of Reproductive Technologies and Genetics, which provides students with an introduction to bioethics and the application of legal and ethical reasoning.

Another way individuals and organizations have been increasing access to the humanities is through digital archives and resources. Lehigh University provides a list of some of the best work in the digital humanities from archives to databases to maps and timelines. The Shelley-Godwin Archive (NYPL) provides the digitized manuscripts of Percy Bysshe Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley (author of Frankenstein!), William Godwin, and Mary Wollstonecraft. The Lost Museum (CUNY) provides a 3-D recreation of P.T. Barnum’s famous American Museum from the mid-nineteenth century. The Making History Searchable project at the University of Texas is a crowdsourced project that relies on volunteers to help transcribe diaries, letters, military documents, and more.

In addition, organizations have been leveraging VR and AR technologies to create immersive humanities experiences. Yale University’s Digital Humanities Lab created a VR tour called John Ashbery’s Nest that allows players to explore the American poet’s home and the inspiration behind many of his poems. Even students have been using VR to bring novels to life. Boston College, Berklee College of Music, and Northeastern University students in the literature, history, and computer science fields collaborated on a VR game based on Ulysses by James Joyce to help provide a new way of experiencing books.

Technology has helped open up new and exciting avenues for making humanities education more accessible and engaging than ever before. In the future, this fusion of technology, humanities, creativity, and innovation will only enrich education further and help foster a greater appreciation for human expression, culture, and connection.


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