Humanities in Class: A Guide to Thinking and Learning in the Humanities


With the generous support of the GlaxoSmithKline Foundation, the National Humanities Center’s Education Programs are undertaking a project to develop a deeper portfolio of curricular materials and help set standards for humanities education that highlight differences among humanities disciplines. Central to this effort is an acknowledgment that each discipline engages its own unique lens through which to approach scholarship and learning — that there is a way of knowing that is equally as important as a specific body of knowledge. For instance, thinking and teaching like a historian requires a certain set of intellectual and instructional tools to effectively work in the discipline; and, while work in U.S. history and world history have similar qualities, each requires a cognitive shift specific to its geographic focus. Similarly, while thinking and teaching like an English or American literature scholar, a philosophy or geography educator, an artist or a political scientist all share common features as fields in the humanities, each domain draws on a specific and unique set of core tenets.

Humanities in Class is a compilation of guides in ten different humanities disciplines that identify the key qualities and practices of those disciplines, considering: What questions are asked? What tools and resources are invaluable? What processes occur? Created to be accessible and flexible to meet the needs of educators and classrooms at all levels, the final guide will feature media and digital content that helps clarify and establish fluency for each discipline.

Designed to reflect the emerging directions of humanities scholarship and the curricular needs of humanities education, this guide will feature work in ten fields of study, including:

  • art history
  • classics
  • environmental humanities
  • geography
  • humanities and science integrative studies
  • literature studies
  • musicology
  • philosophy and ethics
  • political theory and civics
  • U.S. and global history

Our final work will take several digital formats, including:

  • A web-based collection of instructional guides that focus on ways of knowing and ways of teaching in each discipline
  • A series of media-based reflections by lead scholars and educators in each field, including podcasts and video dialogues
  • A set of resources and bibliographies that offer additional avenues into these instructional approaches

Meet the Team