Susan Frost, “Thinking Through the Humanities”

When my Humanities students tell me they are business majors, I advocate for adding The Humanities as a minor. Why would that be of any use to them, you may ask. Are these two disciplines not totally unrelated? Are they not at the opposite end of the spectrum? At first blush, this is illogical; however, when you take a second look, understanding The Humanities makes us better at everything we do and for a business major, makes them the smartest member of the team because in Thinking Through the Humanities we gain vision. It’s a little like the old BASF commercials in which they noted that in purchasing hundreds of products you weren’t purchasing BASF but it was the element in all of those products that made them better. So to, The Humanities, as the discipline that informs every other discipline, makes every degree better as its holder is a comprehensive and critical thinker.

If we consider The Humanities as a balloon construction, the fundamental framework for interdisciplinary thinking and the structure on which every other discipline relies, we change the concept that The Humanities is superfluous, a waste of academic time and tuition, to the idea that it is the key to critical thinking and thinking holistically. In understanding human behavior and response, finding idea clusters and trends make The Humanities fundamental to critical thinking. Philosophy, theatre, music and art become the responses, reactions and revolts connecting us to the core of civilization and putting flesh and blood on skeletons. And, if we approach The Humanities from this vantage point, they also tell us we are not alone and they tell us that as human beings, some things that occurred once will re-occur and this is comforting. The Humanities could be considered not the canary in the mine but the “canary in the mind”, perhaps an admonition. Thinking Through the Humanities gives us the comprehensive understanding fundamental to developing the visionary, creative and critical thinkers so needed in our world.

Susan Frost is president of Frost Marketing Communications, Inc., De Pere, Wisconsin and an Associate Lecturer in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay. Frost also gives works shops in critical thinking based in the Humanities.

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