Our Mission

The Illinois Humanities Council is an educational organization dedicated to fostering a culture in which the humanities are a vital part of the lives of individuals and communities. Through its programs and grants, the IHC promotes greater understanding of, appreciation for, and involvement in the humanities by all Illinoisans, regardless of their economic resources, cultural background, or geographic location. Organized as a state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973, the IHC is now a private nonprofit (501 [c] 3) organization that is funded by contributions from individuals, corporations, and foundations; by the Illinois General Assembly through the Illinois Arts Council, a state agency; and by the NEH.

The IHC creates and funds numerous humanities activities throughout the state, including library discussions, seminars, lectures, performances, exhibitions, films, and written materials. Through these activities, the IHC serves as a catalyst in imaginative ventures which bring scholarship into the public forum. All our programs utilize a broad definition of the humanities -- their topics can range from history and literature to philosophy, folklore, historic preservation, archaeology, jurisprudence or comparative religion -- but all are committed to providing lifelong learning. The IHC has been at the crossroads of ideas, energizing cultural and civic life in Illinois for more than 35 years.

What are the humanities?

The humanities are the study of what human beings have thought, felt, and celebrated throughout the centuries and today. They grow out of an interest in the language, literature, thought, and history of humankind.

The humanities emphasize analysis, interpretation, and exchange of ideas rather than the creative expression of the arts or the quantitative explanation of the sciences. The humanities include, but are not limited to, the study 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.

Why "www.prairie.org"?

We chose the name Prairie for our website because Illinois’ open landscape reminds us how the humanities broaden our intellectual horizons.