Saturday, November 16, 2013

Presidents of Stanford and Michigan Defend the Humanities

Glad to see Mary Sue Coleman and John L. Hennessy stepping up to the plate here.  Nice work.

A taste:

The humanities — history, literature, languages, art, philosophy — and the social sciences focus on the lasting challenges relevant to all of us: creating lives of purpose and meaning, appreciating diversity and complexity, communicating effectively with others and overcoming adversity. Ultimately, our ability to work meaningfully with others will determine the success of our enterprises, and that ability is honed through the humanities and social sciences.
That is why the humanities and social sciences are an essential part of undergraduate education. Most successful careers, including in technology and engineering, do not result simply from technical knowledge. They require leadership skills, social and emotional intelligence, cultural understanding, a capacity for strategic decision-making and a global perspective.

Put another way, success in life requires a sensibility about the world and one’s place in it that the humanities seek to cultivate, as well as an understanding of economic and societal context that the social sciences provide.

Surveys conducted this year for the national Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences confirmed that most U.S. employers are looking for these broad-based benefits of a liberal arts education in their workers.

Leadership today requires addressing the challenges of an increasingly complex and interconnected world, whether the challenges are in business, health, education, technology, law, social justice, environmental protection or dozens of other fields. Most students today will have careers in multiple fields across the span of their lives. Our universities should develop students with skills and capacities that will serve them well in multiple settings and cultivate a passion for lifelong learning, which they will need to thrive in a world requiring constant adaptation.