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Why the Humanities Are So Important

It may seem like STEM subjects (science, technology, engineering and math) rule academia today, as though the study of humanities is an outmoded or unnecessary field. But, according to many in academia as well as the business world, this is not true. If anything, the study of the humanities is even more important now than it ever has been, both culturally and as applied to various business functions.

The study of humanities covers a broad spectrum of liberal arts subjects. But the root of the humanities is in the way students learn to think about and study those various subjects. The depth of thought involved in humanistic study lends itself to most any practical application. In the online Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Humanities degree program offered by the University of Texas of the Permian Basin (UTPB), students can develop these modes of thought, which can prove so useful in professional, personal and professional life.

What Skills and Qualities Can Be Developed Through the Humanities?

The skills and qualities developed through the study of the humanities can prove invaluable in a globalized world. Humanistic thought involves advanced critical thinking, problem-solving, linguistic competency, advanced communication and a well-developed sense of empathy. This set of qualitative skills and inherent qualities can be applied throughout life to any given task, problem or conflict to be addressed, or question to be answered.

Why Are These Skills and Qualities Inherently Valuable?

Presently, the world is increasingly diverse, multicultural and digitally connected. The modern population interacts constantly, across borders and cultures, both digitally and physically. But learning differences between cultures, values, societal norms and communication styles can take time.

This is a vital component of the study of humanities; it produces graduates who are well-versed in more than merely the various disciplines they study. Students of the humanities learn to be culturally competent supporters of diversity. And their abilities in problem-solving and communications can make them good at resolving conflicts, mediating issues between those who have not yet developed a sense of multicultural awareness and empathy. Hence, students of the humanities can play an important role in matters of social justice and cultural progress.

What Does the Study of Humanities Have to Do With the Digital Age?

The predominance of digital culture and communication, along with the rise of AI (artificial intelligence), in our everyday lives has potentially troubling ramifications. In particular, digital technology is inherently amoral — without ethics or empathic thought. More and more decision-making is conducted by algorithms, without any consideration of ethics beyond parameters coded by programmers.

In these scenarios, the input or application of humanistic thought by real people is essential. Students of the humanities are uniquely positioned to bring ethical and empathic consideration to the many aspects of human experience that are now conducted primarily through digital media.

Will I Be Able to Find a Job If I Study the Humanities?

Again, the inherent benefits of studying the humanities are the skills and qualities that the study engenders. Employers, both in the private and public sector, value problem-solving, critical thinking, writing and communication skills, right along with work experience. In fact, many value these proven skill sets in job applicants over their actual area of collegiate study.

As a demonstration of the relative importance of the study of humanities in business and government jobs, here are a few statistics compiled from numerous reports and articles, as shown in an infographic created by

  • Chief Executive Officers (CEOs) of companies like Starbucks, HBO, Avon, YouTube, Whole Foods and more all have degrees in the humanities.
  • 34 percent of CEOs of companies in the Financial Times Stock Exchange 100 had degrees in the arts, humanities and social sciences, compared to 31 percent with degrees in science and technology subjects.
  • 65 percent of UK Parliament members in 2011 had degrees in the arts, humanities and social sciences.
  • Out of graduates of humanities and social sciences degree programs, over two-thirds end up working in the private sector, mainly finance and business.

And as for humanities-related skills, the same infographic shows:

  • 89 percent of employers "want effective oral and written communication."
  • 81 percent of employers "want critical thinking and analytical reasoning."
  • 75 percent of employers "want employees to analyze and solve complex problems."
  • 75 percent of employers "wanted employees to connect choices to ethical decisions."

The skills developed through studying the humanities are in high demand for employers in the private sector, not to mention in high-level public service positions. Students enrolled in UTPB's online BA in Humanities can continue working while completing their degree remotely, building work experience at the same time they develop these coveted skills. Concerning both one's career and one's positive impact on communities and global intercultural development, studying the humanities can be beneficial both to the individual and society at large.

Learn more about UTPB's online Bachelor of Arts in Humanities program.

Sources: The Humanities Matter!

Curt Rice: Here Are 9 Reasons Why Humanities Matter. What's Your Number 10?

The Washington Post: Why We Still Need to Study the Humanities in a STEM World

SI News: These Millionaire CEOs Show That a Humanities Degree Can Take You Far in Business

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