The Hunger for Humanities in Today’s World

Through humanities we learn how to be human, we learn about the world we live in, and be able to think critically and creatively. Stanford University describes Humanities as:

“The study of how people process and document the human experience. Philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language are the mediums that have been used, and fall under the Humanities umbrella. “

History

Going back in time, the Romans started to focus on the ‘art of war’. It is the humanities that sustain and help us connect with the past of our civilizations from those who have come before us. Those memories can be shared through a piece of writing, a sculpture, a vase, or even a painting. This is why great works from the past,  like Shakespeare, will never be obsolete and will continuously show the power to endure for generations. It helps us understand the different cultures, what goes into a work of art of how history is made, while influencing our language.

Shelf Awareness

Once we develop the ability to understand them, it will provide the ideal foundation for exploring the human experience. Another main reason why Humanities is important, is that it instills tolerance in those who chose to understand it. Tolerance is the main and most important contribution how others behave and react to accept differences, which is also an essential attribute that teachers require.

Skills Learnt from Humanities

Daniel Solove, a research professor of law at George Washington University Law School, mentioned the skills gained from Humanities. Here are a few of them listed below:

  • the ability to interpret texts
  • the ability to write clearly and in an organized manner
  • the ability to listen
  • the ability to see things from different perspectives
  • the development of a richer understanding of what other people are feeling
  • a deeper understanding of human nature
  • a richer understanding of how various behaviors and choices lead to good or bad outcomes

In many careers, those skills are what separates a great person from the rest “of the flock”.

My Experience

A new report on the state of the Humanities by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences states that:

“Undergraduates will tell you that they’re under pressure — from their parents to choose majors they believe will lead as directly as possible to good jobs. Too often, that means skipping the humanities.”

Parents need to be more informed about Humanities and the many majors it covers, even new private universities that open many parts of the world, tend to offer STEM majors first, instead of Humanities, in order to gain popularity. Being raised in the Middle-East, I remember many of my undergraduate friends mentioning that they did not have the ultimate freedom to choose their major, which could possibly be a cultural perspective. I experienced this myself. My parents were a large part of why I chose Engineering. They encouraged me to choose a Medicine or Engineering major with the argument that “those 2 majors you will get better future jobs, and once you graduate, you will immediately gain the title of a doctor or an engineer” – and here I am, in the civil engineering department thinking of ways to change my career! I found this great quote from Steve Jobs where he mentions the importance of people who are able to gain knowledge from both Humanities majors and other STEM majors by “standing at their intersection”, something I hope I can achieve one day.

To Conclude

In conclusion, Humanities is entirely important in our curriculum. It teaches us the core beliefs of places around the world and educate us on how people thought and expressed their emotions through their artwork. It is through the Humanities majors that we learn about the world and its history, and to think critically and creatively. There is not a doubt that Humanities majors is what we need in today’s world, a world hungry for Humanities.

References:

Dan Edelstein. How Is Innovation Taught? On the Humanities and the Knowledge Economy. https://www.aacu.org/publications-research/periodicals/how-innovation-taught-humanities-and-knowledge-economy

Why Humanities. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=re5PTZ5MkYQ

Parker J. Palmer. 2007. A New Professional: The Aims of Education. Vol. 39, No. 6, pp. 6-12. http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.lib.vt.edu/stable/40178266?seq=1#page_scan_tab_contents

Daniel Solove. 2013. Why Learning the Humanities Is a Key to Success. https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/20130625075243-2259773-why-learning-the-humanities-is-a-key-to-success

Standford University. http://shc.stanford.edu

 

 

About Dalya

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  1. Thank you for sharing! I agree on the dangers of parents’ influence on their children’s career, where they are encouraged to follow majors based on “job security” instead of doing what they truly love and are curious about. There is enough proof that, at this point in time, no particular college degree will inherently guarantee job placement after graduation. But doing something you truly enjoy can definitely get you that much closer to being able to earn a living by doing what you actually like. In the words of Maya Angelou: “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love. Don’t make money your goal. Instead pursue the things you love doing and then do them so well that people can’t take their eyes off of you.”

  2. Great post! I definitely agree that the humanities are important. While I never really felt pressure from my parents about what major to choose, I do feel like one of the reasons I chose engineering was because of the job security after I graduated. In school I always preferred math and science to the humanities courses. I think that up until taking this course I took the humanities for granted and always hated all of the Curriculum for Liberal Education (CLE) requirements because they took time away from the “more important” Engineering classes I needed/wanted to take. I wish there were some sort of seminar or even just one class during the intro to engineering course where they would explain why the humanities are so important.

  3. I have never thought of the humanities in the ways that you have. I do agree that those courses teach you to think in multiple perspectives. As I have experience with most engineering students, they view those courses as a checkbox on a list. They come into those course with the attitude of I am just here to get an A. The challenge is how do we get these students to think understand the skills that they have learned in those courses and apply it to other areas. Learning and applying skills for multiple realms is what make an individual successful.

  4. Thank you for your articulate post. You have helped me know how to make the case for integrating humanities and engineering, which I will do now with greater resolve. I have come to believe that the humanities part of an engineering education is the greater part, the more important part. I have an idea; let’s teach humanities graduates for engineering! Seriously, let’s do it.

  5. I fully agree with your post. I believe as an engineering student, my experience in higher education has been worthwhile by having access to courses such as this one and the Preparing Future Professoriate course. Thanks for your post!

  6. In an article in The Atlantic, Leon Wieseltier is quoted advancing “The purpose of the humanities is not primarily utilitarian, it is not primarily to get a job … The purpose of the humanities is to cultivate the individual, cultivate the citizen.” Humanities can help people become informed citizens and cultivate our inner being.

    I loved your Blog and it’s never too late to start expanding your interest in disciplines that interests you in Humanities!

  7. “This is why great works from the past, like Shakespeare, will never be obsolete and will continuously show the power to endure for generations. It helps us understand the different cultures, what goes into a work of art of how history is made, while influencing our language. Once we develop the ability to understand them, it will provide the ideal foundation for exploring the human experience.”

    Yes! In teaching international relations to my undergraduate students, I emphasize that an understanding of another country’s culture and history is needed in order to truly have the best diplomatic relations with a country.

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