How to Build Arizona Communities Through the Arts and Humanities

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Guest commentary provided by Arizona Humanities

Arizona communities face many challenges – from navigating a global pandemic to feeling the effects of climate change as our cities get hotter and our water resources dwindle.

Science and data are important in measuring and defining the problems we face. On the other hand, the arts and humanities show us what we can’t always see in statistics – why should we care?

October is National Arts and Humanities Month and Arizona Humanities invites the people of Arizona to celebrate the arts and humanities and reflect on how the arts and humanities can help us meet the challenges of ‘today and bring our community together.

The arts and humanities help us understand our common human experience. By exploring our diverse cultures, traditions and histories, we can begin to understand each other; we can start to make connections; and we can begin to build a community. The arts and humanities remind us that we are all part of humanity, and that is why we need to care.

This fall, Arizona Humanities launched a new series of public programs: Climate Conversations. This series examines a familiar topic, climate change, from a different perspective: through history, literature, art, poetry, philosophy and more. Each event explores the intersection between our environment and the humanities, the point where nature and culture meet. The stories and tales told throughout the series bring larger climate issues to life.

How does climate change affect our daily life? How do my actions or inactions have an impact on the environment around me?

Sir Jonathan Bate, professor of environmental humanities at Arizona State University, opened the series Climate Conversations. Bate is the leading authority on the rich and dynamic relationship between the environment and the humanities, including literature, history, and the arts. He explained why the humanities are crucial to understanding and solving the climate problems we face today.

Climate Conversations is the first series of live broadcasts for Arizona Humanities. More than 150 people from across the state watched the first event and were able to chat with Sir Bate in real time.

“Every day I read the newspaper and see stories about water shortages and forest fires, shrinking lakes and air pollution. Bate helped me think about things from a longer perspective. Many of these issues are not new, but we can envision addressing them in new ways to protect the planet today and into the future, ”said Brenda Thomson.

“It was enlightening to have the opportunity to hear Sir Bate talk about the effects of environmental problems on diverse populations and how the disciplines of the humanities are used by cultures to express their impact. I appreciated his expertise, knowledge and ability to tell the stories that moved these issues from the individual context to a sense of the global society we are all a part of, ”said Missy Shackelford.

People who join future conversations can always listen to previous programs and find out more about upcoming events on the Climate Conversations webpage on azhumanities.org.

The humanities are the gateway to investing not only in the threat of climate change, but also in the social and economic problems that communities face today. We encourage you to join the conversation as we examine this important issue that concerns us all.

Arizona Humanities is a statewide 501 (c) (3) nonprofit and the Arizona affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. Visit azhumanities.org.


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