Contest Kit


Making a submission to the “Shout Out for the Humanities” student contest?  (Or are you an educator planning a creativity workshop to get your students involved in making submissions?) has put together the following contest kit.

You don’t have to use the suggestions in the kit, but we want to be sure everyone has seeds and soil for planting their ideas about the humanities!


What are the humanities? Here are five short definitions:

“The term ‘humanities’ includes, but is not limited to, the study and interpretation of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; jurisprudence; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts; those aspects of social sciences which have humanistic content and employ humanistic methods; and the study and application of the humanities to the human environment with particular attention to reflecting our diverse heritage, traditions, and history and to the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life.”

National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, 1965, as amended (the U. S. Congressional Act that created the National Endowment for the Humanities)

“The humanities—including the study of languages, literature, history, jurisprudence, philosophy, comparative religion, ethics, and the arts—are disciplines of memory and imagination, telling us where we have been and helping us envision where we are going.”

The Heart of the Matter (Report of the American Academy of Arts & Science’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences to the U. S. Congress in June 2013)

“What are the humanities? It is like the notion of ‘time’ in St. Augustine: if you don’t ask, we know, but if you ask, we are left empty handed. Since the nineteenth century the humanities have generally been defined as the disciplines that investigate the expressions of the human mind. Such expressions include language, music, art, literature, theatre, and poetry. Thus, philology, linguistics, musicology, art history, literary studies, and theatre studies all belong to the realm of the humanities.”

–Rens Bod, A New History of the Humanities: The Search for Principles and Patterns from Antiquity to the Present (Oxford Univ. Press, 2013)

“Research stemming from a detailed understanding of human behaviour, economies, cultures and societies can dramatically redefine the crucial decisions we need to make. These decisions may involve the future direction of our economy, ways of broadening and strengthening education provision at all levels, or how we deal with the effects of climate or constitutional change… The humanities and social sciences teach us how people have created their world, and how they in turn are created by it.”

–The British Academy for Humanities & Social Sciences, “Press Pack”.

“The humanities are academic disciplines that study human culture. The humanities use methods that are primarily critical, or speculative, and have a significant historical element—as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities include ancient and modern languages, literature, philosophy, religion, and visual and performing arts such as music and theatre. Areas that are sometimes regarded as social sciences and sometimes as humanities include history, archaeology, anthropology, area studies, communication studies, classical studies, law and linguistics…. The humanities and social sciences teach us how people have created their world, and how they in turn are created by it.”

–Wikipedia, “Humanities,” 2014.


How do you want to Shout Out for the Humanities? Here are some possible formats for your contest submission:

  • Write a short essay or blog post (less than 2,000 words)!
  • Make a video!
  • Assemble an exhibit or portfolio of your photographs!
  • Create a digital work! (e.g., multimedia or interactive exhibit, storymap, timeline, infographic, little video game)
  • Make a poster!
  • Draw a cartoon!
  • Write a song!
  • Make some art!
  • Design something (e.g., a poster, a tee-shirt)!
  • Write a short story or short script!
  • Interview someone (e.g., your parent, or someone in your community you admire)!
  • “Interview” someone fictional or from the past! (Who would you interview if you could who would be a great spokesperson or example of the humanities?)

Note: Submissions must be your original work (though they may include component materials by others for which you have permission or that you are excerpting under fair-use copyright terms).


What tools can you use to explore and express your ideas? Here are some good ones that can be used for free or for low cost (but you can use anything).

Digital Tools

  • Web site (and blog) platforms
  • Video recording
  • Audio Recording
    • Audacity (“free, open source, cross-platform software for recording and editing sounds”)
  • Recording Skype calls:
  • StoryMapJS (create interactive maps on which you can superimpose your photos, writing, etc., to tell a story)
  • Inklewriter (design interactive stories with branching options; allows export of stories to Kindle with hyperlinks for the interactive features of a story)
  • Twine (create interactive stories or games)
  • Tiki-Toki (web-based platform for creating timelines with multimedia; capable of “3D” timelines)
  • Bitstrips (comic book creator)
  • Popcorn Maker (“helps you easily remix web video, audio and images into cool mashups that you can embed on other websites. Drag and drop content from the web, then add your own comments and links”; see FAQ)
  • Venngage (“Everything you need to create and publish infographics is right here”)

Physical Materials and Hardware


What writings, history, statistics, or other resources can you draw on to back up your arguments? Personal, family, or community anecdotal experience is strong testimony. So is your own reflection on the humanities and society. Write from your heart and your mind! You don’t need anything more. But if you need quotations, evidence, or statistics that can help make your contest submission resonate more widely, here are a few places where you can look:

Major Recent Reports on the Humanities

Statistics, Data, and Surveys

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