National Humanities Institute

Our Mission

The National Humanities Institute has two basic purposes: (1) to formulate a strategy for the renewal of civilization and (2) to implement that strategy through a variety of interrelated programs.

The need for such a strategy should be obvious. Spreading self-indulgence, continued erosion of the family, moral and religious decay, rampant crime and drug abuse, falling standards of personal conduct, the decline of education and the arts, economic and financial irresponsibility and collapse, political opportunism and paralysis—these are just some of the signs that America is suffering a crisis of civilization.

The central question of our time is how to address this civilizational crisis. The mission of NHI is to help provide the answers by promoting a better understanding of the moral, spiritual, and cultural underpinnings of civilization, the centrality of personal freedom and creativity, and the historical nature of human existence.

Society’s long-term direction is set by the most deeply held beliefs and aspirations of a people, especially those of its elites. Human beings are ultimately moved by their innermost hopes and fears and basic sense of reality. These are shaped by the moral, intellectual, and aesthetical life of a people.

Over time, a society lives by its culture— for good or ill. Major and widespread social and political problems are traceable to problems in the culture broadly understood—to universities, the media, the arts, religious institutions, schools, et cetera.

One of the great illusions of the present age is that politics holds the key to the future. Politics reflects general cultural trends that politicians have not themselves generated and that they can only marginally control or resist.

For a society truly to address its problems, solutions must emerge from a reinvigorated moral, intellectual, and aesthetical life. Such renewal will eventually reorient the actions of individuals, families, and communities.

The humanities are central in sharpening the awareness of problems and in inspiring a desire for renewal. It is largely in the humanities—in the humane and social disciplines and the arts—that the moral sensibilities, the mind, and the imagination of society’s elites are formed.

By working to reorient the humanities, NHI is working to reorient society.

Updated 29 July 2010