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The humanities: it is their time

David W. Atkinson (MacEwan University)

On the Horizon

ISSN: 1074-8121

Article publication date: 30 August 2021

Issue publication date: 20 October 2021




Much has been written about the crisis in the Humanities even as student interest in the Humanities continues to decline. In the so-called “post-truth,” “post-COVID19” period,” however, the Humanities deserve attention for the important role they must play in preparing students for the world during a period of dramatic change.


Discussion focuses on the “post-truth” period and how the Humanities have a role in confronting misinformation and “fake news.” It provides specific actions for how those in the Humanities might address the current situation. It relies on the author’s considerable background as a university Dean and President over a period of over 40 years and draws on a variety of written material addressing the future of the Humanities.


In a period when the world confronts unprecedented change, when misinformation is confused with the truth and when social media exercises so much influence, students more than ever need the insight and context of the Humanities to mitigate the cant, bogus claims and questionable ethics that so much shape the world. Responsibility falls to faculty as they must make clear to their students how the Humanities provide a perspective that allows students to work through the big questions of their time.

Research limitations/implications

Much has been written about the challenges facing the Humanities. It is hoped that this paper will generate additional discussion on how the Humanities might assert themselves during what are troubling times in higher education.


The author’s long experience as a senior university administrator provides a perspective that faculty and administrators might find useful as they consider the future of the Humanities at their institutions.



Atkinson, D.W. (2021), "The humanities: it is their time", On the Horizon, Vol. 29 No. 4, pp. 145-159.



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