Anthony Garcia, “5 Overlooked Reasons the Humanities Help Us All”

Every student of the Humanities has had to defend their studies at some point. Compared to other majors such as engineering or chemistry, the humanities do not seem to be nearly as applicable for future jobs. Humanities programs are not considered a technical science and it is not geared-like pre-law and pre-med for a specific graduate program. Although the Humanities get a bad rep because they often are not training for a specific career, there are unexpected benefits and skills that come from the humanities.

1. Creative thinking.

An education in the humanities imparts its adherents with the ability to think creatively. When analyzing literature or history, students must learn how to analyze the work involved, critique the scholarship surrounding that work, and form their argument. Learning how to think about and assess a first person account from the past gives students the ability to do this in every aspect of their life. Markets change, and although educational paths which focus on technical skills may become obsolete or require continued knowledge, the ability to think will never be outdated, helping the lives of humanities students.

2. Innovative research techniques.

Academic research cites all of its sources and makes use of footnotes, endnotes and bibliographies, especially in the Humanities, where publishing annotated bibliographies is common. As pointed out by Stephen Mexal, the research structure from the Humanities was applied to shape the field of intelligence gathering, and was extremely vital for the early development of the CIA. Other fields also take their cue from the Humanities. The great artist Leonardo Da Vinci used his study of subjects in art to lead him to great exploration and dissection of the human body. The minute detail he brought to the task of a painting proved to be immensely beneficial in all of the inventions and experiments that he carried out.

3. Humanities educations produce graduates who communicate clearly.

Most degrees in the Humanities focus extensively on developing arguments, writing essays, working in groups and being able to read a number of academic literatures. These skills are all directly applicable to the real world. The ability to write concisely and clearly is constantly undervalued. Real jobs require employees to argue a point, write reports and make presentations. Effective communication is important for business to run smoothly and for information to spread effectively.

4. Students learn to question their own beliefs.

The study of humanities involves students looking at the various belief and cultural systems of different nations, and according to R. Howard Bloch in a recent Yale Daily News column, helps society learn how to regulate themselves and help others. Throughout these studies, students will have to constantly compare and question their own belief systems. Whether they come out of college with the same ideas or new ones, the ideas they leave with will have stood a trial by fire and will be stronger than those previously held.

5. History tends to repeat itself.

Works with literary merit stand the test of time because they show us our own humanity. The tales of love, betrayal and battle within the Iliad have stayed popular because they still resonate with our experience. It has often been said that those who do not know of history are doomed to repeat it. By studying the Humanities, students can look towards the future by learning from the past. There is a reason each president has a number of advisors trained in history. This field is relevant to the current era and can help guide us within it.

Anthony Garcia recently completed his graduate education in English Literature. A New Mexico native, he currently resides and writes in Seattle, Washington. He writes primarily about education, travel, literature, and American culture. He sent this statement to 4Humanities on October 20, 2011.

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