4 years ago5,000+ Views
Choosing a major is a daunting thing - and so is giving advice to someone who is involved in that process. In times of economic difficulty and a focus on the utility of degrees in the workplace, the humanities can sometimes be misunderstood and therefore overlooked. Whether or not you want to pursue a degree or career in the humanities, it is valuable to know what they are and their crucial role in our cultures and in many other non-humanities professions. The Stanford Humanities Center has a great, concise summary of this information on their site. First, What Are the Humanities? "The humanities can be described as the study of how people process and document the human experience. Since humans have been able, we have used philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language to understand and record our world. These modes of expression have become some of the subjects that traditionally fall under the humanities umbrella. Knowledge of these records of human experience gives us the opportunity to feel a sense of connection to those who have come before us, as well as to our contemporaries." Some examples of humanities disciplines: Literature History Art & Art History Music / Musicology Religious Studies Linguistics Classics Philosophy These fields are the backbone of our societies and our industries - even science and tech! Everyone should take a class or just learn about some of these very cool areas. They make us more informed, ethical and happier people! Second, Why Should I Care? Here is what the SHC says about why the humanities matter: "Insights Into Everything Through exploration of the humanities we learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions. Because these skills allow us to gain new insights into everything from poetry and paintings to business models and politics, humanistic subjects have been at the heart of a liberal arts education since the ancient Greeks first used them to educate their citizens. Understanding Our World Research into the human experience adds to our knowledge about our world. Through the work of humanities scholars, we learn about the values of different cultures, about what goes into making a work of art, about how history is made. Their efforts preserve the great accomplishments of the past, help us understand the world we live in, and give us tools to imagine the future. Bringing Clarity to the Future Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. Investigating a branch of philosophy might get you thinking about ethical questions. Learning another language might help you gain an appreciation for the similarities in different cultures. Contemplating a sculpture might make you think about how an artist's life affected her creative decisions. Reading a book from another region of the world, might help you think about the meaning of democracy. Listening to a history course might help you better understand the past, while at the same time offer you a clearer picture of the future." In my next post, I'll share their description of what research in the humanities looks like with some of my own experience and observations. You can visit their website linked here.
Even for those that don't intend to have a career in the humanities, having an understanding of many subjects within the humanities is definitely necessary to be a successful member of many, many other fields, thus why so many colleges require humanities courses!
My pleasure, @nenegrint14! I'm so glad it helped. Please let me know if you ever have questions. I'd also love to read some of your thoughts! I need someone to recommend some good theater - it's kind of my weak spot. Also always love to read other people's book reviews! Anyway, it was nice to discuss together :)
Yes, thank you, it does! it has given me a lot to think about. Thanks for your help!
Thanks for your question, @nenegrint14! It is definitely an important issue. I think part of the problem is that there is a misconception about the number and variety of jobs available to humanities majors. I have friends from the humanities who are teachers and professors, as well as lawyers. Some who work in big tech companies as well as startups, some who work for non-profits, or for the non-profit sectors of big companies such as Microsoft. Some of them are tech writers, some of them are in radio, some are music producers, professional musicians and composers, some are museum curators, some are novelists, poets and even sports commentators. Others are in marking, public relations, government think tanks, local and state politics, embassies, the state department - you're getting the idea, right? Also, I think there is a question of what you mean by "real money." Certainly no one would advise that people live in hardship and poverty, but there is also a difference between having a moderate amount of income that is enough for a healthy, fulfilling lifestyle with a family and a large income that allows for more luxury and flexibility of expenditure. Either way - there are places for people with humanities degrees to go. It's just a matter of looking at the valuable core skills they teach you instead of at the disciplines themselves - then think about how they can and should be applied in different fields (including the tech world and the sciences, if that's your thing). Think about what other interests you have, and how the humanities can help you contribute in some areas, then look for related internships or find mentors to help you see what the options are. Don't forget - some of the best assets of the humanities major are creativity, innovation and rhetorical ability - you are someone who can change minds, convince others and come up with new tools and approaches to many problems. Many humanities majors are able to carve out jobs in their fields of interests that didn't even exist, but are now extremely high-value positions! I hope this helps.
I enjoyed reading this article. It is great in persuading someone to take a class or two from the Humanities genre, however when you are talking about choosing a major I don't see reasons why it is a good idea in our "times of economic difficulty." I am currently a Foreign Languages major at a community college. I have changed my major from Theater Education to Business, Psychology, and finally to where I am now. I am someone who enjoys the arts and humanities , and completely agree that everyone should take these classes, but I am afraid for my future because only a lucky few are able to make any real money in these subjects. I've changed so many times trying to find something I will enjoy doing, but will also allow me to comfortably support myself and any future plans I may have. As much as I would like them to be, I'm still not convinced that the Humanities will offer that for me, or maybe I haven't found the right path. I was hoping, based on your intro, your article could quiet my fears and show that the humanities could be economically rewarding. Do you have any tips for someone like me?
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