Humanities courses necessary for increasingly holistic approach to college level education

The humanities general education requirement at Geneseo is often wrongfully viewed as a painful obligation that needs to be met. Many students, especially STEM majors, have vast trouble finding its value. It is clear, however, that everyone reaps serious benefits from taking a humanities-based class.

“The humanities are the study of what makes us human, of what it means to be human,” according to Times Higher Education. In order to be well-rounded individuals, everyone should take at least one humanities class because despite popular opinion, the humanities still matter.

In the current age dominated by digital media, some argue that now, more than ever, there is no need to study the humanities; however, “given this, it is vital that we approach the media, advertising and marketing discourses that influence and often manipulate us with critical thinking,” Times Higher Education reminds us. 

It is critical for people to be able to discern what information is true, what is false and what may have been altered. Contrary to popular belief, these are not skills humans are born with or innately know. Just as children learn basic morals through picture books, adult students can enhance judgment ability, like communication skills, through the humanities. 

The humanities also provide the know-how critical to all professional work, namely, proficiencies in reading and writing. “With few exceptions, in order for people in the STEM professions to have an impact, they must be able to write effectively and creatively,” as reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education.

Major scientific discoveries mean nothing if the researcher cannot articulate, both written and orally, what they have found. 

The argument many parents and other people in power use in discouraging students from working in the humanities is that they are not profitable. “Many assert the primacy of the STEM fields, while for humanistic studies, politicians belittle them, parents urge their children to avoid them, and students choose them as majors less and less,” according to The Washington Post. 

If professional prospects are deterring people from studying the humanities, they need a reality check. “Educational priorities should not be defined by future income alone. Such a figure is inherently speculative and fails to take into account how the job market will evolve in the next ten to fifteen years and beyond,” as reported by The Harvard Crimson. 

Essentially, the whole is worth more than the sum of the parts. It is more imperative to create people who are equipped with the tools necessary to tackle complex thinking and articulate their thoughts in writing, rather than produce people who may make six figures.

“As [the humanities] penetrate every aspect of existence, they can, and should, intersect with the natural and social sciences, but literature, history, art, music, languages, theatre, film—and yes, television and computer games—are the stories and ideas through which we express our humanity,” according to Times Higher Education. 

Like it or not, the humanities are everywhere and have an effect on almost all aspects of the world. There would be no logic in completely disregarding a subject that is still so present in society. 

Trudging to your humanities class may feel annoying and pointless, but it is necessary to complete a well-rounded education.