So today in my teaching history class, we spent the day discussing the importance of history. For those of you who don’t know, the National Endowment for the Humanities has just taken a big cut in federal funding. As a result, John Fea has sought to push back and mention the importance of studying history. Our class talked about how it is fair to say that history teaches us unique skills that you might not receive otherwise.
I also serve on the Dean for the School of Humanities’ student advisory council. Dr. Peter Powers, the dean, asked us to read this article which dove into where humanities were going.
Maybe I’m just biased — ok I’m definitely biased — but I’m pretty fed up with being told that my major isn’t worth anything. I would like to openly admit that I will not make as much as people who do other work. However, that is because of the choice I have made for a career, not because of my major. Humanities majors can certainly excel in multiple different areas. I have seen doctors who were history majors. There are successful business leaders who were philosophy and English majors.
How are they doing this?
Because the Humanities teach us these transferable skills. When those who major in the Humanities can effectively communicate the skills they learn, I am convinced that they will have a leg up in the job hunt.
In the Humanities, I have developed a deeper sense of thinking. I am not saying that other majors would not teach me to think deeply. However, the Humanities have taught me to think more deeply about humanity. I find myself trying to understand a person and all their complexity. I look at events and try to decipher meaning. I just don’t see where else I can learn these abilities.
Those of us in the Humanities need to emphasize our skills that go beyond basic content knowledge. We provide a unique and different perspective. Sure I might not know how to create great stock options, I may not be able to fully program a website, I may not be able to administer a shot. But with my History major, and being part of the school of Humanities, I know that I have the ability to learn how to do each of those things and more.