I recently considered the fate of public intellectuals in the digital era, concluding that their evolution was closely tied to a number of societal shifts. One of these is the perceived, and oft discussed, crisis in the study of the humanities. Are the humanities still relevant? Do they matter, outside of a purely theoretical context and beyond the confines of the college classroom? These sorts of doubts are reflective of broader tendencies in the way we view our world, such as the rather primitive question of what qualities we consider essential for the workforce that allows society to function. In the knowledge economy, observers of the job market for college graduates and even seasoned professionals will have noticed a pattern emerging at the most basic level: where employers once sought well-rounded candidates with strong ethics and critical thinking skills, terms like “results-driven,” “entrepreneurial” and “quantitative” have now become commonplace in job descriptions. Not so frightening on their own, these words are part of a linguistic choice that reflects the competitive demands of the marketplace, and some of the resulting shortsighted choices that tend to underestimate the advantages of an education grounded in the humanities.
Society can easily understand the benefits of learning financial accounting, statistical software manipulation and business modeling, but is less comfortable with what it regards as the more intangible qualities cultivated by the humanities and, to some extent, the social sciences. … Read More Forward-Thinking Organizations Value the Humanities