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Two basic questions always arise when anyone considers the Humanities: 1) What are Humanities? and 2) What are they good for?
The Humanities comprise the exploration of the human experience, on the experiences of individuals in the world; they are the examination of life. This exploration is effected through practice and study in art, music, and drama, and through the study of literature, history, languages, and thought.
At Brock, this exploration is done through the teaching and research carried out in the Departments of Visual Arts, Music, Dramatic Arts, English, Classics, History, Modern Languages, Literatures and Cultures, and Philosophy, as well as the Centres for Digital Humanities, Studies in Arts and Culture, and Mediaeval and Renaissance Studies.
What are the Humanities good for? They’re good for the expansion of your mind and your experience, your horizons and your very world. Through studying Humanities, you’ll become the person who asks the (often annoying) questions, and the person who strives to understand human life, thought, and emotion. By asking the questions and searching for the answers, you’ll be able to comprehend and contribute to the progress of humanity.
And on the way, you’ll become an intellectual powerhouse: you’ll develop skills in language, argument, persuasion, analysis, and interpretation. You’ll be ready to cope with any challenge the world throws at you.
By now you’re saying, “That sounds great, but I want a job after graduation.” And you’ll have that, too. Study after study, survey after survey show that students of the Arts and Humanities have the skills that employers are looking for, and are getting hired. Employers view communication skills (98%), having a positive attitude (97%) and teamwork skills (92%) as being important or very important when hiring for entry-level positions. (Source: Millennial Branding Student Employment Gap Study, Millennial Branding Group, May 2012)
It’s common knowledge that an education in the Arts and Humanities, besides leading to a more meaningful life, can also help in the search for meaningful employment. Here’s a sampling of recent stories:
Employers in Canada want people with the skills Humanities students develop: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/education/education-lab/as-canada-pushes-job-ready-skills-the-rest-of-the-world-embraces-liberal-arts/article18492798/
Graduates with any degree are employed at a rate of 90% or higher within two years of graduation: http://cou.on.ca/reports/university-works-2015/
The Humanities can make someone a better doctor: http://www.theglobeandmail.com/life/health-and-fitness/health/how-arts-education-can-help-create-better-doctors/article25802902/
and are absolutely essential to the ever-growing tech industry: http://www.forbes.com/sites/georgeanders/2015/07/29/liberal-arts-degree-tech/
In the end, employers don’t care what your major is, as long as you’re passionate about it and can talk about it (and anything else) in an articulate way: http://chronicle.com/article/If-Students-Are-Smart/230307/
So, what are the Humanities good for? They give you the chance to learn how to think, how to speak, how to work, and how to be human. Make the most of the chance: join us in Humanities at Brock!
Carol U. Merriam, PhD
Faculty of Humanities