The Science of Humanities
Humanities makes us human
Can you imagine a society in which arts and humanities do not exist; can you imagine your world without music, art or literature? If religion and philosophy would be absent, the study of history would be nullified, and intellectual debate would never happen. How dry our world would be without passion of humanities. We all give maximum importance to science, math, and technology and consider the arts as a lesser branch of study; we naively discount the value of the humanities and attempt to minimize their importance in education. But, the fact is they are so significant in our daily life.
The humanities are one of the academics disciplines that study human culture, using techniques that are of significance; these techniques are mostly exploratory. Humanities have a significant historical element as distinguished from the mainly empirical approaches of the natural sciences. The humanities branch includes ancient civilization, literature, philosophy, history, anthropology, sociology, communication studies, cultural studies, law, linguistics, religion, visual and performing arts such as music and theatre. The humanities are also referred as social sciences. Scholars in the humanities are described as humanists; this term also describes the philosophical position of humanism.
Humanities education gives insights into how their society is different
Humanities education gives students insights into how their society is different. The world consists of several religions, cultures and races. Educators also list several other benefits to the study of the humanities. Since the humanities involve the gaining of large amounts of information about the world and humanity, it requires that students develop critical thinking skills in order to process and analyze the information. This is a skill that translates into other realms of a student’s life, and it can provide benefits to other areas of study.
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. This has given birth to Futures Studies which is also called futurology and futurism. It is the study of postulating possible, probable, and preferable futures and the worldviews and myths that underlie them.
Today, humanistic knowledge continues to provide the ideal foundation for exploring and understanding the human experience. Investigating a branch of philosophy might get us thinking about ethical questions. Learning another language helps us gain an appreciation for the similarities in different cultures. Contemplating a sculpture makes us think about how an artist’s life affected his/her creative decisions. Reading a book from another region of the world helps us think about the meaning of democracy and its importance for our survival. Listening to a history course helps us understand the past, while at the same time it offers us a clearer picture of the future.
A report commissioned by Oxford University’s Humanities Division found that numbers of Oxford graduates of English, History, Philosophy, Classics and Modern Languages are employed in key economic growth sectors of finance, media, legal services and management. This number rose substantially between 1960 and 1989. By the end of the period, 16-20% was employed in these sectors. It is believed to be the first report of its kind as it evaluates the contribution of the study of the humanities to boost the economy by looking at career paths and mid- and end-career destinations of graduates, rather than the three years immediately after graduation as used by the government’s Higher Education Statistics Agency (HESA).
The research has involved using the University of Oxford alumni database to examine the employment history of 11,000 Oxford humanities graduates who matriculated between 1960 and 1989 to give full career paths to track, and has also involved focused in-depth interviews with 50 alumni, thereby engaging quantitative and qualitative measures of humanities graduates’ impact on the British economy and society. The head of humanities at the University of Oxford says that it is widely recognized that the humanities have intrinsic value as well as utility in the well-being of the world and it has a great impact and value in any economic crisis.
Mark Edmundson – a renowned Professor of English at University of Virginia says that serious thinkers opt for Humanities to broaden their minds and learn to how to live the rest of their lives. A serious thinker himself, Edmundson has felt firsthand the pressure on colleges to churn out a productive, high-caliber workforce for the future. Through his articles and paper presentations he reminds us that there is more to education than greater productivity. With prose exacting yet expansive, tough-minded yet optimistic, the liberal arts are more important today than ever. Titled as “Why Teach”? Edmundson’s collected writings on the subject, including several pieces that are new and previously unpublished. What they show, collectively, is that higher learning is not a rut – some staid. It is a necessary remedy for our troubled times. Why Teach? is thus brimming with the wisdom and inspiration that make learning possible. When it comes to choosing a career, we all ask this common question – will humanities help me achieve a desired career in life? It depends on what that career is. Humanities will enable you to advance in writing skills, speaking skills and thinking. And, most importantly it will strengthen your ability to recognize further opportunities to learn. It will give you the ability of researching – to find information and ideas, and the ability to critically distinguish between various sources of ideas. It will help you structure your thoughts coherently and express yourself in ways that are appropriate to the occasion. It will help you build up reading skills which will further give you an ability to understand language and systems of meaning, whether they occur in literal texts, or in other forms. Humanities students learn to read images, culture, and a host of other things, besides written texts. It will make you adaptable – your ability to apply knowledge skills to vide variety of contexts.
And here’s another thing to keep in mind – the humanities today are not the humanities of the past. Sad, but the image that many people have of humanities is of a pursuit that has no relation to practical human concerns. The fact is humanities disciplines are involved in research projects of all sorts, with just about every discipline in the university. Philosophers work with scientists and engineers, historians work with medical professionals, creative writers work with digital media engineers. The fact is every technical and scientific discipline, at some point or other, must help the humanity and hence becomes a humanities discipline! Every scientific advance is an advance for humans, and is meaningful in our history, for the betterment of our lives. Every invention happens within the context of human meaning. Every business trades on human narratives and human desires as expressed through language and symbol. The humanities matter everywhere. This discipline of studies therefore is far from being marginal. It is central to all human life.
In the words of Terry Eagleton – a prominent British literary theorist and critic “The humanities should constitute the core of any university worth the name.” So, guys stop underrating importance of Humanities.