Fair   N/AF  |  Forecast »
Bookmark and Share Email this page Email Print this page Print Feed Feed

Nebraska Humanities Council

Enriching Lives for Over 20 Years

(page 1 of 2)

Though formed in 1965, the National Endowment for the Humanities has its roots two centuries previous. Thomas Jefferson was an avid proponent of what is now termed a Liberal Arts education. Centered on the Humanities - literature, history, philosophy and theology, to name a few disciplines - Jefferson believed this intellectual training was the foundation of a thoughtful, reasoning, and informed populace. Such a populace was the cornerstone of democracy. A republic simply could not stand if its citizenry could not think.



Congress formalized Jeffersonian thought when it established the National Endowment for the Humanities over three decades ago. Its purpose: "To bring the Humanities directly to the American people," says Jane Hood, Executive Director of the Nebraska Humanities Council. Scientific discovery during the 60s was aided by National Science programs and the successes of the space program. Like their scientific counterparts, scholars in the Humanities advocated an educated public. Being well-versed in the Liberal Arts, they contended, fostered critical thinking skills that prepared people for life. Teaching people how to think, not just what to think, made them not only marketable but worthy protectors of the democratic tradition.

The question remained how to make the Humanities accessible to the wider public. Recognizing that not all people attend college and that not all college students pursue a Liberal Arts degree, Congress sought to make the Humanities available to the general public.  It initially hoped local universities and colleges would offer programming for public consumption. It then looked to state governments to provide it. In the end, Congress determined that the non-profit route, with a board of directors to represent the state but not tied to any one political affiliation, would be the best vehicle to bring the Humanities to the general public. Thus, state councils, were formed.

The Nebraska Humanities Council was established in 1974. "Its mission is to cultivate a better understanding of our history and our culture," says Hood. It offers programming that helps Nebraskans understand who we are as humans, to explore where we have been as a race so we can better grasp where we are going. 

Programming and Resources

The Nebraska Humanities Council fulfills its mission through a myriad of programming statewide. Perhaps one of the most notable is Chautauqua, a traveling living history program. Bright Dreams, Hard Times: America in the 1930s was the theme of this past years program and will continue this summer in Columbus and North Platte. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Louisiana Governor Huey Long, novelist Zora Neale Hurston, humorist Will Rogers and other key players from this time transported 21st century Nebraskans back to the 1930s Depression with their portrayals. "Chautauqua is first person history that looks at Nebraska and Great Plains history and heritage," explains Hood. 

Add your comment: