The sciences are the “how,” and the humanities are the “why”—
why are we here, why do we believe in the things we believe in.
I don’t think you can have the “how” without the “why.”
— George Lucas
Scientists are trained to invent things. Doctors are trained to save lives. Lawyers are trained to give legal advice. Accountants are trained to prepare financial records. And humanities scholars … well, what’s their role?
You might not believe it, but humanities research has clear practical applications in the economy. For one, the knowledge about culture that humanities scholars have is needed in so-called ‘creative industries,’ that is in advertising and marketing, architecture, the art, design, fashion, TV and radio, music, publishing, and others. These businesses benefit greatly from scholars’ understanding of cultural processes, good storytelling or the impact of social media. In addition, public institutions benefit from the knowledge that language and culture scholars have, for example in the integration of immigrants or in international trade and diplomacy.
Besides these economic benefits, the humanities are relevant because they produce alternative perspectives on the world we live in. They encourage us to think creatively and critically, to ask questions, to see things from the perspective of others. They ask us to think critically about the way we use technology. They help find solutions to issues that can’t be solved with scientific expertise alone, for example social inequality, racism, terrorism, even environmental degradation. Because the root of these problems is not scientific, but cultural. A society that fails to tackle these issues, to ask what it means to be human and what is right won’t be sustainable in the long run.
And that’s why the humanities matter.
(If you’re interested in the benefits of studying in the humanities, check out my other post)
What are your thoughts on this topic? Let me know in the comment section below!