UNC-Chapel Hill is a liberal arts university that forces its students to complete a required number of hours of classes centered on subjects in the humanities. Yet, UNC seems to be more known for its status as a scientific research institution. Many of the students I know at UNC are majoring in some sort of science or math. My sister is almost done with pharmacy school and my roommate is majoring in math.
There is definitely an inherent value in the STEM field and I appreciate the people who want to be or are experts in that field.
But I am not one of those people, and that is okay too.
I recently read some of Martha Nussbaum's book "Not For Profit: Why Democracy Needs the Humanities" for my English class. Nussbaum states that many nations are currently pushing for educational and governmental systems focused almost solely on gaining as much economic growth as possible.
The humanities are being abandoned because education in the maths and sciences is associated with economic growth, and Nussbaum argues that this loss of the humanities is having a detrimental effect on democracy. She believes that, without the humanities, we are losing a little bit of what helps us to understand one another as human.
I agree with Nussbaum, and I think that it is pretty evident in today's political climate that our current democracy is not functioning as well as it could.
The extremists of both sides of the political spectrum are susceptible to villainizing the opposing political side. Both extreme liberals and extreme conservatives have forgotten that the people who make up the opposing side are human too. They hold onto their opinions and beliefs so tightly that they fail to even attempt to understand why the other side might hold a certain belief. No one tries to understand people's motivations as humans anymore.
With an education system more focused on the humanities perhaps, we can begin to view others with a more sympathetic perspective and with a deeper understanding of what connects us as humans. The humanities teach not only the value of appreciating and understanding artistic outlets like film, literature, art, and music but also the importance of being aware of what is going on politically and why that matters to people individually and as a whole.
Hopefully, the humanities will not continue to be associated negatively with economic growth and just in general. If we forget what makes us human we will lose our connections to ourselves and to each other as people. A world focused solely on economic growth on the basis of the nation is one headed in a dangerous direction.
I'm currently reading the novel 'Kazohinia,' by Sandor Szathmari. In the book, the protagonist lands on an island called Kazohinia. On this island, the people have no understanding of morality, soul, and emotion. This lack of understanding disconnects them from one another and they all seem the same. I can almost imagine a world like this if we continue to stigmatize the humanities as dis-valuable.