As UCLA nears its centennial year, research and teaching in the Humanities are as central to the campus mission as they always have been. The more than 200 faculty members in the division, working alongside scores of specialized lecturers, talented graduate students, and dedicated staff, carry on the age-old human project of interpreting the world’s legacy of language, literature, and art and introducing it to new generations of young people. Our departments, research centers, and interdepartmental programs represent the investment of the people of California and of hundreds private donors in the grand project of understanding and teaching the human heritage in all its diversity.
At the same time, we find ourselves at a turning point. Even as technological advances are rapidly changing our students’ approaches to learning, and even as many young people are gravitating to training in technical fields, we are hearing calls from many professionals—in medicine, in business, in law, and in government—for graduates who bring real cultural competence and interpersonal sensitivity to their work and who are able therefore to uphold human values and perspectives even in the midst of rapid change. We are also seeing the practical benefits of humanities training in careers, as employers look for job candidates who can write and speak clearly and elegantly in English and other languages, who can understand problems from multiple perspectives, who can work well in teams, and who have the imaginative spark and creativity that yield new solutions to old problems. Whether we are preparing our students for success in their careers and fulfillment in their lives, or working to advance a rigorous scholarly understanding of cultural and artistic life in all its forms, this is our mission: to put the human being at the center of our efforts, and to ensure that future generations will never lose touch with the sources of our common humanity.