In a fast-paced, business-driven world, it can be difficult to choose a career that will be both enjoyable and financially stable. Because of this, many college students have trouble choosing majors. The use of humanities courses, such as English, History and Social Sciences, has declined across the country. They have been pushed aside for business, engineering and other career driven studies that are considered to be more lucrative.
Currently, humanities majors are at an all-time low. As a devoted English literature major, this news is not exactly comforting. However, there are people trying to change these statistics–restoring the humanities to the important position that they once held. They are working hard to prove that the humanities are important to communication, and they allow us to live the “life of the mind.”
Richard Broadhead, president of Duke University for the past nine years, also spent his time in college as an English major. He is now the co-chairman of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences. Recently, he spoke on “The Colbert Report” about the importance of humanities, as well as his new publication on the subject called, “The Heart of the Matter.” Broadhead defined the humanities as, “Humans studying the things that other humans have achieved, suffered and struggled for in other times and places.” He then explained that these college majors, as well as the teachings of humanities classes across the nation, are dwindling.
His explanation of the humanities presents a type of learning that is essential to a person’s education; it teaches students that they can achieve, but that there will also be failure and hardship along the way. It also demonstrates that work is required to reach success, which teaches people to strive for their goals and aspirations. Teaching humanities and sciences together creates a broad learning experience that helps people grow and also gives them a plethora of ideas to hold on to. “Even engineers need to be able to communicate in order for the full value of their education to come around,” Broadhead explained. Overall, his interview on “The Colbert Report” renewed my confidence in studying English.
At St. Joseph’s College, we are taught to live a “life of the mind.” Humanities courses are the type of environment in which we are able to strengthen our minds while forming our own ideas and opinions about the world. The foreword of Richard Broadhead’s paper states that, “Citizens who are educated in the broadest possible sense, so that they can participate in their own governance and engage with the world,” are the people who should be prepared to lead America in the future. We have to move past the moneymaking mentality and focus on thinking critically. As a humanities college, Saint Joseph’s prepares us by instilling the ability to live this thought-driven life and to interact with the rest of the world. Therefore, in my opinion, humanities will always remain crucial to communication, success, and humanity.
By: Jennifer Gagliardi