Why we still need humanities in a STEM-focused world

As I was growing up in rural Northwest Georgia, I wasn’t quite sure what I wanted to be, but I knew what I loved — to make music, write, read, paint, and learn about other cultures.

An eternal jack of all trades, I didn’t know at the time that I was actually a burgeoning humanities student.

I went on to graduate with a Bachelor of Arts in history and a minor in anthropology in 2018, a culmination of a lifelong curiosity about the unknown. Unfortunately, I was one of few.

In recent years, the value of humanities degrees has been eclipsed by a focus on STEM — not just in the United States, but across the globe. While we can all be thankful for the innovations and advances being made by those students, the world still needs input from the curious readers, writers, and thinkers.

The term “humanities” or “liberal arts” refers to programs like history, English, politics, philosophy, and many more. We often ask the same questions as our STEM counterparts, but look at the answers differently.

Where a biology major may look to carbon dating to understand the story and history of humanity, the champions of liberal arts look to ancient texts, pieces of art, and other staples of culture that separate us from the people of the past. We learn invaluable (and hireable!) skills such as effective communication, logical debate, creative thinking, team collaboration, cultural understanding, and problem solving. In fact, at Oglethorpe University where I am an admission counselor, these competencies are the hallmark of the Core curriculum, the cornerstone of an Oglethorpe education.

Kristian Willingham is an admission counselor at Oglethorpe University and a liberal arts college graduate.

These transferable skills matter not only to our institution, but to employers around the world.

While technical knowledge can always be taught, it is harder to teach a new employee the well-rounded emotional intelligence gained through an education in the humanities. Don’t buy into the old adage that you will never get a job with a Bachelor of Arts — there are plenty of jobs for you out there. (And hey, I’m proof of that!)

Are you a jack of all trades, always curious about how humanity got to where we are today? Do you long to create, to ask why, and to explore cultures? Then you may also be a good fit for a degree in the humanities!

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