“It is a convenient truth. You go into the humanities to pursue your intellectual passion; and it just so happens, as a by-product, that you emerge as a desired commodity for industry.” – Damon Horowitz
As the chosen curriculum among the scholars of Ancient Greece, the humanities have always been dynamic and wholly-relevant. The term ‘humanities’ in itself is derived from the Latin word ‘humanus’, denoting everything we’ve come to know as being inherently ‘human’.
Now, the humanities have come to represent our most cultured and refined, with E. O. Wilson, one of the modern world’s most respected scientists, describing them as “the natural history of culture, and our most private and precious heritage”. These are the disciplines that cut to the roots of our complex existence, delicately converging with the scientific world as our history, literature, language, art, music, film, theatre, TV, and even our computer games provide an invaluable platform for expression.
“We understand ourselves and our world through the telling of stories,” Sarah Churchwell writes for Times Higher Education (THE). “Visual dramas teach us sympathy, empathy, pity, encouraging us to break out of our solipsistic shells. They explore ethical issues, ask challenging questions, inform the way we view each other. Today we live in a culture more defined by images and stories than ever before,” she explains.
For this very reason, the world can sometimes seem like it is shrinking, as scientific innovations and ground-breaking technologies bring more than a millennium of history to our fingertips. This is why it’s essential for us to hone our communication skills; to teach the rigor of language needed not only to navigate, but to develop a fast-paced and intricate world. These expertise are not innate, they are learned – and we have entrusted the humanities to teach us for more than 2,500 years.
The Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Bath, shows us the connotations carried with the current beliefs, values, environments, and experiences of modern society. Teaching subjects such as: Economics, Education, Health, International Development, Politics, Languages and International Relations, Psychology, and Social and Policy Sciences, Bath’s Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences is helping students define their own unique role in an interconnected world.
“In a global age, we need to understand other societies,” Churchwell continues. “Anyone who has ever studied a foreign language knows that different phrases can prompt new perspectives and open our eyes to cultural values; studying foreign languages also improves mastery of our own,” she adds. “This rule holds by analogy more generally: when we learn about other people, we also learn about ourselves.”
Students who study the humanities and social sciences at Bath benefit from its diverse learning community and interdisciplinary approach, because the university understands that the interdependency of subjects seeks collaboration across all its first-rate faculties. External links enhance the expertise and collaboration; They are linked to one of the UK’s foremost Centres for Development Studies, and, according to the QS World University Rankings, are in the top 50 worldwide for Development Studies.
Embedded firmly within the faculty’s reputed knowledge culture, postgraduate study options at Bath’s Graduate School is home to world-leading quality. “When you join our Graduate School you will be welcomed into a diverse academic community,” notes the School. “We will ensure that your time with us exposes you to, and gives you the opportunity to contribute to, the breadth and richness of our socially significant work”. “Work” in this respect covers a wide and expansive range of themes, such as conflict and security; environment and sustainability; poverty and social justice; childhood and youth; health and wellbeing; and technology and the knowledge economy. Such diversity highlights the depth of meaningful research coming out of the faculty, and its all-encompassing relevance.
Through study of the humanities, we are able to grasp the sheer scale of influence the social sciences have over our interconnected world. Delving into the varying fields of international relations, for example, we not only learn more about our own identities, religion, and cultural backgrounds, we also gain grounding that might even allow us to answer some of the world’s more serious ethical questions – we carefully examine and read between the headlines into some of global politics most fundamental players. Reading a book from a far-reaching corner of the globe will make you think about the value of policy in a fast-evolving world, while learning an additional language can reveal things within our consciousness we may have never seen before. These are the so-called ‘soft-skills’ employers want and need, and highlight why humanities graduates of 2015 gained a starting salary 26 percent larger than peers from the previous year.
For all these reasons, and so many more, a degree in the humanities remains infinitely relevant, and reputable schools like the University of Bath continues to nurture graduates who shape tomorrow’s world.