Humanities Watch, a new humanities advocacy site, explores how the humanities influence business, healthcare, science and technology. It poses questions, seeking to explore the broad impact of the humanities in our world. I caught up with Timothy Kircher, Founder and Editor of Humanities Watch over email to ask him some questions about the site.
AC: Hello, Timothy Kircher! I was excited to see yet another site advocating for the humanities and exploring important issues that pertain to the broader structure of the humanities in the academy and beyond. When did you start Humanities Watch, and what inspired its beginning?
TK: I started Humanities Watch a little over a year ago, with the help of a student, Aaron Smedley, who is very well-versed in web design. Aaron was a student in my survey course in the Middle Ages that I call “The Medieval Web.” “Web” means not only the interplay of religion, politics, and culture, but also the exploration of on-line, digital resources for studying this history. So I discussed with Aaron my ideas for the site, and we went public with the site in November.
AC: What’s the mission inspiring Humanities Watch?
TK: The site was inspired by my perception that there was nothing like it in the public domain: its mission seems to me unique. For as you can see, the mission does not assert claims, but rather raises questions. It asks about the relation of the humanities to our current preoccupations with the sciences, medicine and healthcare, technology, and business, and does so not with predetermined answers, but instead with the aim to find, through the questioning, a new sense of the humanities’ place in our society. Many advocates of the humanities speak of their valuable “soft skills,” and these are important. Yet there is of course more that might be asked about these skills – their nature, their history, their function – and whether these are the only things the humanities provide, and how (or whether!) they are providing them. The site’s guiding question, “who watches the watchmen,” is from Juvenal, and speaks to the need to be self-critical: for self-examination has always been central to the humanities.