What use could the humanities be

What use could the humanities be in a digital age? University students focusing on the humanities may end up, at least in their parents’ nightmares, as dog-walkers for those majoring in computer science. But, for me, the humanities are not only relevant but also give us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and the world.

Nicholas Kristof

4 thoughts on “What use could the humanities be”

  1. But, for me, the humanities are not only relevant but also give us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and the world.

    Deep Thoughts of Dog Walkers.

  2. For my day job, I’m a healthcare executive where I manage multiple projects but none more important than caring for our team members. My Master’s in History gave me a great perspective on psychology, the written word, communication, negotiation, planning, and a host of other subjects. No, I’m not suggesting a degree in history for healthcare, but I am suggesting you harness your education for your future.

    “Some say follow your passion. I reject that. I say follow opportunity and bring your passion.” – Mike Rowe

  3. “Getting an education” is far more important than any particular undergraduate major, except in that the education as a whole needs to include adequate math, scientific method, writing and interpretation of writing, foreign language (which can, of course, be “at home” for non-Americans†), and civilization/societal/behavioral structure. That the American university degree comes at least somewhat close to this is one of the (few) advantages of the American education system over the Euro-Japanese-Korean model — the greater depth in their three-year undergraduate degrees, achieved largely by jettisoning “general education” requirements (and presuming they’ve been met through elite high-school educations, but that’s an argument for another time) in favor of the foresight of 18-year-olds as to their entire adult futures in the workforce, makes for a more productive first job… that all too often dead-ends, with later promotions depending more on social connections than competence.

    I’d snarkily remark that American lawyers seem to do ok after “changing” from their undergraduate degrees, since one does not get an undergraduate degree in “law” or “legal studies” in the US (or at least not one that’s worth a damn for anything beyond becoming a cop — that’s what they’re intended for). But that, of course, would inaccurately assume that American lawyers don’t show their ignorance of the subject matter of the disputes they’re involved with (either in advance or in court) every day…

    † “If you speak three languages, you’re trilingual. If you speak two languages, you’re bilingual. If you speak only one language, you’re an American.” (If only that weren’t so, so true in practice.)

  4. Usefulness is a matter of expectations.
    If somebody goes for a humanities major expecting to become rich off it they have a long road ahead. It might happen but the odds are long.
    The same applies to most tech majors, not just the humanities.

    The best advice I ever heard remains: “Figure out how to make a living off what you like or learn to like what you can make a living at.”

    Life is too short to spend doing something you don’t like but scraping by at an unrewarding activity is no fun either. A bit of clear-eyed practicality is called for. After all, nothing says you can only do one thing in life. If you have a bearable day job, there can be room for passion projects on tbe side. It’s not all or nothing.

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