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Anthony P. Monaco
Photo: Alonso Nichols


Enhancing the Arts and Humanities

I know from my own college years that a liberal arts education offers transformative experiences and
opens doors to fulfilling careers or graduate study. Central to that experience at Tufts are the arts and humanities, which are essential to our understanding of human society and to the ongoing vitality of thought and culture.

Through these disciplines our students learn to analyze complex ideas and formulate their own. They learn to interpret the world around them and appreciate the literature, languages, art, and music that add texture and context to our lives. They also learn the critical habits of mind that enable them to question dominant modes of thought and social assumptions. Finally, by undertaking research and significant creative projects through programs such as the Summer Scholars, they build close relationships with faculty that are directly correlated to their future success.

Continued excellence in the arts and humanities is essential to our educational and research missions, to engaging more fully with our communities, and to our broader academic reputation. Many students in every major choose Tufts precisely because of its strengths in the arts and humanities. Graduates in these fields often go on to distinguished professional or academic careers in them; others, having learned to think critically and express themselves well, excel in business, government, and the law.

On campus, we have much to celebrate in the myriad ways that our arts and humanities faculty advance intellectual life. The Center for Humanities at Tufts (CHAT) hosts outstanding scholars, public intellectuals, writers, filmmakers, and artists. Tufts has long enjoyed an international reputation in the digital humanities, an area in which we can distinguish ourselves even further. We are becoming a leader in transnational studies. And events such as the Spring Festival for the Arts enrich our entire community.

This is the moment for Tufts—and for American higher education—to affirm the importance of the arts and humanities in educating the next generation of leaders. Enhancing scholarship and teaching in these areas must be a priority for us now and in our next fundraising campaign.

We must invest in both undergraduate and graduate study in the humanities and arts. More than half of Tufts undergraduates engaged in independent research last year, and the demand for faculty-mentored opportunities to conduct original scholarship will only grow. I want to create a culture in which arts and humanities graduate students partner with faculty to support undergraduate scholarship. At the graduate level, our excellent Ph.D. programs need more funding for student stipends and travel. And we should consider developing doctoral programs in humanities disciplines where we already have highly regarded master’s programs.

Because faculty in the humanities have fewer opportunities for outside research support than their colleagues in other disciplines, we need to support them through initiatives such as leave fellowships and funding for visiting scholars and symposia on campus. We must also ensure that our facilities meet faculty and student needs. Finding the resources will be a challenge—but it is important. The arts and humanities, and the scholarly efforts of our faculty in those fields, are vital to our mission.

In ancient times, an education in the arts and humanities was considered essential for full participation in civic life. That is an outcome that Tufts embraces today. Developing students’ intellectual abilities so that they can thrive in their chosen careers and as active, questioning citizens is what liberal arts education does best. And that is why Tufts must commit to the arts and humanities in even more deliberate ways.


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