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.