The Humanities Council of Washington, DC (HCWDC) is a non-profit organization that provides grant support for community projects that enrich the lives of DC residents through the humanities disciplines. Additionally, HCWDC produces humanities programs, such as Soul of the City and Live to Read, with support from area non-profits, the NEH, and the DC government. The organization was founded in 1980 as a private affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and is one of 56 similar institutions located in each U.S. state and territory.
HCWDC is governed by a 25 person board of directors, 5 of whom are appointed by the mayor. Working in conjunction with the Council’s small staff, these community leaders are dedicated to creating an environment, in all DC wards and neighborhoods, where residents can participate in open conversations about the humanities and how they reflect contemporary issues and challenges.
Though the HCWDC receives funding from the NEH, it relies heavily on generous support from donors passionate about promoting the instructive and enriching influence of the humanities in the District of Columbia.
What are the Humanities?
According to the NEH and the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act, the humanities include the study of language, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, as well as art history, theory, and criticism. These disciplines and their related fields are vital to civic and social well-being because they provide a sense of physical and intellectual continuity with the past, reflect current societal issues and challenges, and can help illuminate possibilities for the future.
The humanities can mean many different things to many different people. As part of an ongoing project, the Humanities Council of Washington, DC has compiled a number of definitions from our colleagues and friends. Click Here to view Defining the Humanities: A work in progress.