What does it mean to be human?
There are probably as many answers to this question as there are humans alive to answer it. You might say something about the things that make us unique, like our capacity for collective learning. Or you could argue that being human is about our ability to empathize with others. Or that the question answers itself: being human means thinking about our place in the universe.
Over at the Big History Project, they’re so interested in this question that they’re hosting a video contest in search of the best answers. The winner will get $5,000 and a contract to produce more videos for the Big History Project.
I recused myself from the competition, but in case you’re curious, here’s how I answered the question.
Why Big History? It’s an academic course that gives you a framework for seeing how history, the sciences, and social studies all fit together. It’s an ideal approach for thinking through big, provocative questions like this one. I originally saw Big History on a series of DVDs and loved it so much that I asked its creator, David Christian, to help turn it into a free online course. It is also being taught in some high schools, and many teachers use questions like “What does it mean to be human?” as a centerpiece of class discussions.
Big History is my favorite course of all time. And now I’m curious to see some interesting answers to this Big Question. Good luck!