In the opening panel for the TIME Higher Education Summit, in New York City on September 19, 2013, Condoleezza Rice sounded off on the importance of humanities in an increasingly tech-focused academic climate. Check out her comments here. And you can find more from the summit here.
Studies show that schoolchildren who participate in art and music classes do better in other subjects and have fewer behavior problems. The same is true for adults. The arts help develop analytical and abstract thinking, and also physical dexterity. Plus, it's relaxing.
As someone who earned a BA in History in 2010, I'm all for supporting the Humanities. However, that support must be conditioned on a coupling with a technical skill that can led to employment upon graduation.
For example, even though I was a History major, I coupled it with a Secondary Education certification. That's because a stand-alone History degree will not lead to employment in today's economy. In other words, you need to be able to use your degree to do something (and not just read/research History).
Even the "liberal arts of the Business world" are picking up on that trend. Since teaching positions were and still are not available, I went for my MBA in 2011, and earned it in December 2012. When I started, I was just a Marketing MBA. Yet, according to research, which department was the first to make 'cuts' when times were tough? That's right - Advertising & Marketing. So, Necessity again acted as The Mother of All Invention. I had to then become a dual MBA in Marketing and ERP (software to manage enterprises). My Marketing 'soft skill' was coupled by a technical 'hard skill.'
In fact, it was that hard skill that won me my first professional position with a leading Fortune 500 in the months following graduation. In fact, it was also that hard skill that got me hired as an adjunct instructor at a private university. So, in essence, I was able to return to teaching and work in a corporate setting as well.
The lesson of my experience is that you need to be open to change. If you are only liberal arts coming in, consider realistic and profitable ways to use your degree. Find ways to become desirable to potential employers. If possible, speak with Business professors and others outside of your major to find meaningful ways to communicate your skill-set to others. You'll be thankful that you had those conversations later on, when you're able to connect your skills/experiences with the Business seeking you out.
If it will help cut down on people recklessly throwing around threats of mushroom clouds, I'm all for it.
Absolutely Dr. Rice. I have been a software/systems engineer for the almost forty years. I have played a musical instrument for the majority of my life but I did not develop an active interest in visual arts and literature until approximately twenty years ago. I have since noticed a increase in my observational skills and an increased ability to "think outside the box", which I must attribute to by increased interest in the arts. The Arts do increase analytic thinking (documented in numerous studies), which is the primary requirement for successful science and technology research. So why do we continue to remove the arts from our education curricula?
It's true, we can't give up on the humanities, but we do need to re-examine how they are taught in relation to other subjects. I graduated from a 3 year degree in Ceramic Design from a very highly respected design school this year, but after graduation I couldn't help but feel like I would have been better off doing some kind of apprenticeship instead. The academic side of the course was completely pointless.
Similarly, I know painters who choose to go to French painting ateliers instead of doing a BA in fine art because they know they will receive actual instruction at a proper painting school. I can't speak for the other humanities, but with many art and design subjects it feels like you go to university just to access the space and the tools, not the teaching.