Why do we value the humanities in education?

Why do we value the humanities?

BBC Senior Journalist and Editor Amanda Ruggeri wrote a post for BBC News back in 2019 about how maybe we’ve been thinking about the humanities all wrong. She references Uber hiring people with psychology degrees to handle disgruntled customers. Ruggeri also noted other large tech companies hiring English majors to research and convey data findings to business owners.

So, why do we value the humanities?

Dr. Erin Laverick is the Assistant Vice President of Academics at Concordia University Ann Arbor. She also teaches in the School of Arts & Sciences and serves as the Program Director for the Master of Arts in Digital Humanities. Below, you can read Laverick’s response to this overarching question and some of the natural follow-ups that come with it.

What’s the danger in cutting humanities programs?

With a focus on career-readiness and job preparation, many colleges and universities across the nation are cutting their humanities programs in order to build health profession programs, business programs, etc.  What happens when these cuts are made?  Well, we lose our humanity.

What skills do students gain when they study the humanities?

The humanities encourage life-long learning, build critical thinking skills, and improve students’ speaking and writing skills.  They also teach students how to be empathetic.  Empathy is a much needed skill in any workplace setting, especially when dealing with issues of conflict resolution.

In addition to empathy, students learn about cultures, religions, and political thoughts different from their own, thus building their tolerance and respect for others who they will collaborate with in the workplace, in their children’s schools, and in other global and local spaces.

The humanities remind us of the past.

Finally, through literature, art, history and other fields of study, we learn about the past.  We learn from the past and how to avoid future mistakes in society and the workplace. These are all important skills for the global workplace and are transferable to a plethora of jobs.

Preparing students with the skills they need

Are you surprised to hear that the humanities prepare students to be better workers? This is true even in the tech and business sectors. It’s tempting to encourage our students to be practical, especially when paying thousands of dollars for college education. However, the research shows that students who study the humanities in college are assets in the workplace. Ultimately, we want our students to think deeply and solve problems. That’s exactly what a humanities or liberal arts college experience encourages.

Feeling inspired?

If you want to know more about pursuing an education at a liberal arts university like Concordia, check out our website. If you already have a bachelor’s degree, check out this blog post to learn more about our Master’s in Digital Humanities.

If this story has inspired you, why not explore how you can help further Concordia's mission through giving.