Worst Professor Ever had a link up on her blog leading over to an article called Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities which appeared in the Harvard Business Review. Basically this article reaffirms my belief that the hierarchy of subjects in academia is a load of bull.
Some quotes I particularly liked to start off:
“…Our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn’t teach how to navigate “what if” questions or unknown futures.”
“People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways.”
“Any great work of art — whether literary, philosophical, psychological or visual — challenges a humanist to be curious, to ask open-ended questions, see the big picture. This kind of thinking is just what you need if you are facing a murky future or dealing with tricky, incipient problems.”
They also list off the things you get with a liberal arts crowd:
+ Complexity & Ambiguity (understanding problems before they start instead of being too focused on immediate tasks or buried under too much data)
+ Innovation (free up inherent creativity)
+ Communication & Presentation (well-trained in writing and presenting; can develop persuasive arguments, background in performance leads to presentation skills; understanding history is indispensable if you want to better understand competitive global markets)
+ Customer & Employee Satisfaction (ability to get under the skin of customers/employees to discover needs/concerns – powers of observation and psychology)
The also note: Foreign languages will also be helpful (obviously). Philosophy helps with ethics. History helps you understand the past and gives you a picture of the future.
Science and math are great – but you’re dead in the water without the Humanities because Humanities is so much more general education about life and giving you a broad skill set applicable to so many different careers. Granted – I’m probably pretty biased, but it’s because I’m sick of people slagging on the Arts for not getting you a career.