In Defense Of The Humanities
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Student Life

In Defense Of The Humanities

Why a liberal arts education is important in a STEM-dominated world.

In Defense Of The Humanities

"Oh, do you want to be a doctor?"

This is usually the first thing people say to me when they hear that I go to Johns Hopkins University—in fact, it's happened to me so often that I've learned to brace myself for that one inevitable question whenever I tell people where I go to school. Of course, it's not an unreasonable assumption, as Hopkins has one of the largest pre-med populations of any college university—not to mention, it is home to one of the top medical schools in the world.

But the fact that I go to Hopkins isn't the only factor that lead people to assume I want to become a doctor. In today’s data-driven culture, the prestige and financial payoffs promised by the various STEM-related fields leaves hardly any room for the liberal arts to flourish. As the promising fields of science, technology, engineering and math are exponentially growing in our society, enthusiasm for the humanities seems increasingly hard to come by—and of the few that are majoring in the humanities and the arts? The concern of a career path after college is hardly a novel problem.

We have a good reason to be worried: the corporate world is not a very friendly place for liberal arts majors, and the job market for the humanities are shrinking every year. As a Writing Seminars and Psychology double major myself (with no intention of doing premed at all), I can definitely attest to that uneasy feeling that most fellow liberal arts majors know all too well when they are asked, “So what are you going to do with that (English/philosophy/history/etc.) degree?”

The truth? We have no idea. Not that all of us have absolutely no clue what we want to do in our careers (although some of us still don’t, and that’s okay)—but that more often than not, we have no idea whether we’re actually going to get that dream job as a novelist, or if we can find a job with a history degree, or whether we'll be able to make a suitable living as an artist. Whether you like it or not, there’s definitely a lot of doubt and uncertainty that you have to deal with when you dedicate your studies—and your life—to the liberal arts.

So why do we do it? The answer is quite simple: it’s the passion we have for our fields that, despite all the doubt and despite all the uncertainty regarding our future, drives us to do what we love. In a world rapidly becoming technologically-driven and data-ridden, we are still able to recognize the importance of the humanities and the massive impact it has on all of our lives.

Sure, the fields of science and medicine constantly excite and challenge us as human beings, but the humanities interrogate us in a way that no STEM field can; for often times, it is only through reading poetry, or investigating a branch of philosophy, or even contemplating a sculpture, that we learn to think creatively and critically, to reason and ask questions, and to become informed and cultured citizens of the world.

No matter what becomes of our future, I believe a liberal arts education will forever hold an inherent value, not only in enabling us to gain valuable insights into our world, but also in providing the ideal foundation for understanding—and improving—the human experience and all its beautiful intricacies. In spite of our rapidly changing world, in spite of any doubts about bleak job prospects, in spite of everything—an education in the humanities will always be meaningful.

So for those who have been told that by choosing their major, they've chosen a life of underemployment, debt and endless hours as a Starbucks barista: Keep on studying—and doing—what you love. The world needs passionate majors of all kinds.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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