CIRCA:Arguments FOR and AGAINST

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==[[CIRCA: Arguments AGAINST the Humanities|'''Arguments AGAINST the Humanities''']]==
==[[CIRCA: Arguments AGAINST the Humanities|'''Arguments AGAINST the Humanities''']]==
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==Arguments for the Humanities==
 
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Advocating for the humanities appears to have unwillingly adopted the form of critiquing the critique. Whereas the humanist could at one time spend their days venerating the value of the various vocations of the liberal arts for their own sake, the academic now finds their primary task in apologetics, as noted by Gary Day below. Defense is the new face of the humanities, for better or worse. It is presumed by many that the humanities no longer possesses any form of the benefit of the doubt, but must instead defend their very existence at every turn. The onus is on the humanities to prove humanities’ worth. Attacked from within and without, affected by both internal and external budget cuts, and a general societal attitude of apathy, the humanities have been cornered.
 
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How did this once honored and exalted statue of education and betterment of culture and society fall from it’s popular pedestal? While cutbacks and changing attitudes continue to decimate the humanities landscape, some humanists wonder if it isn’t already too late to save culture from it’s own ignorance.
 
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Outlined below are a number of arguments for the humanities, presented from a variety of sources and writers, some from the far reaches of journalism, some from the so called ivory tower of academia itself, and others from students whose personal experience navigating the ambiguous waters of the nebulous zeitgeist of their times has allowed for unique insights into the fray of the matter.
 
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While the below collection of reports, news articles, wikis and blog entries differ in style, context, and method, there is a singular common theme that runs the gambit of the argument. Twofold in nature, the matter comes down to this: the humanities are integral and foundational to every facet of the ‘real world’, and it is up to the advocates of said cause to prove it.
 
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Irate with it’s own form of apathy, many humanists now realize that much of the ‘crisis’ of the humanities originates within the hallowed halls of academia itself. Silent on their own behalf, humanists have not raised their voice when they should, or if they have, they have touted self-serving mantras that satisfy no one but themselves. Proclaiming proudly that the humanities are the cornerstone of what it is to be human, that the betterment of the self is the betterment of society, and that critical thought necessitates all things, the humanist simply does not form a defense of the humanities as such if defending the humanities means proving their relevance to those who disbelieve.
 
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The simple fact is, beyond the noble cause of the existence of the humanities for and of themselves, there is indeed a very good argument to sedate and satisfy the uneducated masses, and that argument is a plentiful good argument if for no other reason in that it gives a disillusioned culture exactly the answer it wants to hear: that a liberal arts and/or humanities degree can prove both useful and financially successful within the down-to-earth realms of their ‘real world’. As presented below, the defense of the humanities lies not solely within the philosophical phantastes of some elusive ‘betterment’ of society, but in the statistical reports of real life successes in the applications of the humanities to the nitty gritty of daily life in society.
 
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Amy MacLaren, Alex Bevis or Scarlett Yianni at Colman Getty. “Humanities Graduates are vitally important to UK”,  Copyright © 2012 New College of the Humanities http://www.nchum.org/humanities-graduates-vitally-important
 
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A report is given by the New College of the Humanities that more than 60% of 800 plus prominent UK leaders have a humanities background, including art history, history, literature, languages, and philosophy, while only 15% of these leaders have a background in STEM studies. The leaders studied include MPs and CEOs. Professor Grayling argues that although an education in the humanities improves the individual, it is also of practical benefit to society. According to Grayling, the talent of a broad education finds its way into “law, journalism, the civil service, politics, financial services, the creative industries, publishing, education, and much besides.”
 
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Association of American Universities (Washington, D.C.) As Delivered by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates, Washington D.C., Monday, April 14, 2008 http://www.defense.gov/speeches/speech.aspx?speechid=1228
 
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Robert Gates addresses the subject of the Academy and higher education as being critical to national defence, and highlights the role that universities and higher education played in national security during the Cold War, comparing modern security threats to the Cold War and the role that research played. Gate points out that their is a critical relationship between the military and the humanities and posits as an example the relationship between anthropologists and the military in an effort to build up an understanding of the cultures that the military is working in. He cites the Human Terrain project, which is a collaboration between the military, economists, historians, and sociologists aimed at building understanding and communication with the ultimate goal being towards a reduction in the use of violence in wartime.
 
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Sir Adam Roberts, “Past Present And Future: The Public Value of the Humanities & Social Sciences”, British Academy, 2010. http://globalhighered.files.wordpress.com/2010/10/ppf.pdf
 
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Introduced by Sir Robert Adams, this booklet presents the case for the humanities as a critical component to culture, arguing the place of humanities in policy making, business, technology, social concerns and globalization. It presents 10 topical cases in support of the humanities. Case studies include, among others topics,  an exploration of the facets of social exclusion and public policy, innovations in business and humanities knowledge transfer, information ethics in the rise of technology including the proliferation of sexualization through the growing pornography industry, the philosophical inquiry into war crimes and the definition and scope of genocide, and implications of multiculturalism as understood through the humanities.
 
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Steve Jobs: Obituary, Oct 6th 2011, The Economist http://www.economist.com/blogs/babbage/2011/10/obituary
 
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During a speech introducing the Ipad 2, Steve Jobs sums up his life’s philosophy on the value of an interdisciplinary approach to all things great when he states that: "It's in Apple's DNA that technology alone is not enough — it's technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing and nowhere is that more true than in these post-PC devices." Steve’s legacy and life is the paradigm argument for the value of the humanities in society.
 
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Hasan Bakhshi, Philippe Schneider and Christopher Walker. “Arts and Humanities Research and Innovation”, Arts and Humanities Research Council, November, 2008. http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Publications/Documents/Arts-and-Humanities-Research-and-Innovation-(Nesta).pdf
 
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The AHRC (Arts and Humanities Research Council) posits that the model of the “lone scholar” of the humanities quickly being replaced with a global recognition of the collaboration between the humanities and the sciences. The humanities offers an innovative part of any collaborative, including a broad understanding of ethical considerations that speak to differing ideologies of government and culture within a global context. The success of any endeavor within society requires the best of both worlds. Where the sciences present as culmative in their efforts towards knowledge, the humanities deal with fragmentary evidence, and is concerned with making that evidence complete and compliment scientific endeavors. The difference is that the knowledge of the humanities is not overridden with new discoveries, and old knowledge is not discarded for new knowledge, whereas in empirical knowledge, there can only be one leading truth at any given time.
 
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Alan Hughes, Michael Kitson and Jocelyn Probert with Anna Bullock and Isobel Milner.
 
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“Hidden Connections: Knowledge exchange between the arts and humanities and the private, public and third sectors”, Arts and Humanities Research Council ©AHRC, and Centre for Business Research, 2011. http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Publications/Documents/Hidden-Connections.pdf
 
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The key findings presented in this report point out that not only have academics in the Arts and Humanities along with academics from other disciplines actively engaged with efforts to connect to society, but that academics from the Arts and Humanities are more consistently connecting with society through initiatives in teaching, administration and outreach than are academics in other disciplinary fields. Notable is the higher level of academic participation from the Arts and Humanities engaging businesses than do other academic disciplines. Initiatives in seeking out partnerships, both on the part of the humanities’ academic as well as the business, along with a desire to familiarize with each other’s field of study, are cited as the reasons for this knowledge exchange.
 
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Sir Alan Wilson, “Leading the world: The economic impact of UK arts and humanities research”, Arts and Humanities Research Council ©AHRC, http://www.ahrc.ac.uk/News-and-Events/Publications/Documents/Leading-the-World.pdf
 
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“Leading the World” reports on the efforts of the AHRC to defend arts and humanities research publicly, thereby justifying the use of tax dollars towards further research in the humanities in the UK. The AHRC contends that the influence of the arts and humanities moves extensively beyond academia into all aspects of society and creates and frames our daily cultural experiences in theatre, heritage, and general entertainment including reading and cinema, collectively constructing the very foundations of our human experience. Evidence demonstrates that our identity in cultural and individual expression is what creates the cultural ‘ecosystem’.
 
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Cathy N. Davidson. “Our Time to Lead: A new curriculum for real-world success”, The Globe and Mail, Oct. 13, 2012. http://www.theglobeandmail.com/news/national/time-to-lead/a-new-curriculum-for-real-world-success/article4610483/
 
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Using companies Google and Apple as examples, Davidson, professor at Duke University, outlines her SUCCESS (Start-Up Core Curriculum for Entrepreneurship, Service and Society) model, noting that the new fad of skills acquisition through online courses is no match for the education provided by the traditional degree, and points out that companies like Google and Apple don’t consider students with skills or trades based education for leadership positions, while the traditional education provided in a humanities degree, including “excellence in written and spoken communication, critical and creative thinking, an ability to collaborate across distances and cultural differences, and breadth of knowledge and experience” are what it takes to survive and manage in the new and challenging and ever changing global environment. She argues that public attitudes around traditional ways of looking at the humanities need to change since we no longer live in the 19th century division of cultures but instead live in a world where the arts and sciences work in unison towards a successful society.
 
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Vivek Wadhwa. “Silicon Valley Needs Humanities Students”, Washington Post, May 16, 2012. http://www.washingtonpost.com/national/on-innovations/why-you-should-quit-your-tech-job-and-study-the-humanities/2012/05/16/gIQAvibbUU_story.html
 
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It outlining stats that support the humanities degree as the key to success, Wadhwa presents an interesting proposition. He states that the reason why STEM students are not as successful as Humanities students in the leading positions of any given company is that technologists and engineers are too “wrapped up in elements that may be cool for geeks but are useless for most people” to make it in the broad context of success. Therefore, whereas the technologists focus limits them, humanities students are able to understand and focus on people and how technology applies to people in the real world.
 
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Peter Burian. “Defending the Humanities”, Inside Higher Ed, June 25, 2012. http://www.insidehighered.com/views/2012/06/25/essay-how-defend-humanities
 
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In “Defending the Humanities, Burian notes that one of the critical dangers in teaching humanities to the first generation of students raised on social media and en masse access to information is the tendency for humanists to feel the need to present the humanities as sexy and fast in order to remain relevant, and to cater to the students demand for speed and immediacy. Burian sees this attempt to ‘catch up’ with the speed of students as the downfall of the humanities, and instead posits that the humanities needs to return to asserting in more effective ways the value and passions of the field. His defense of the humanities focusing more on the aspects of fulfillment rather than success, and posits that the humanities need to focus on advocating the value of fulfilment before success in order to achieve success, whether financially or otherwise, and that the balance is dependant on patience and perseverance in teaching and learning.
 
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“Drastic University Cuts will imperil UK’s Future Success: British Academy President challenges ‘sterile and outdated notion’ of two cultures.” British Academy for the humanities and social sciences, 16 June, 2010. http://www.britac.ac.uk/news/news.cfm/newsid/364
 
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Sir Adam Roberts has recently released a publication in the British house of commons entitled Past, Present and Future, in which he argues the value of the humanities as being necessary to the overall health, happiness and success of British society. He challenges the outdated notion of the ‘two culture’ divide between the humanities and the rest of the society, highlighting the mutual dependency between the natural sciences and the humanities as critical to facing the current social challenges facing global humanity. Roberts’ main focus identifies major current global concerns, such as climate change and international security, and outlines how they cannot be effectively addressed without contributions from the humanities, including the expertise of, among others,  historians, linguists and philosophers. Statistics are provided that highlight the direct impact such contributions have on society.
 
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Jonathan Lewis. “Debating the relevance of Humanities Research”, Choose Humanities, July 2, 2012.
 
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http://www.choosehumanities.org/news/2012/07/debating-the-relevance-of-humanities-research/
 
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Lewis reviews a number of critical attitudes towards philosophy and the humanities in general, using examples from the 1961 comedy sketch ‘Beyond the Fringe’ that debates the use of philosophy in the real world. Lewis paints the ‘real world’, being the world outside of the University, as demanding a measurable representation of the impact that any particular humanities discipline claims to have on the world, and counters that demand with examples of the impact of the humanities on society through the ability of the humanities to provide the critical broad-minded thinking necessary to solve economic, environmental, political, and social questions.
 
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Richard H. Brodhead. “Brodhead: Advocating for the Humanities”, Duke Today, March 19, 2012. http://today.duke.edu/2012/03/humanitiestalk
 
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Brodhead opens his defense of the need for a humanities curriculum in the United States with the humanities background of three of the most influential and significant leaders in global innovation, those three leaders being Steve Jobs, Martin Dempsey, and Harold Varmus. He contends that it is the foundation of the humanities education of these three leaders combined with their later experience in STEM education that propelled them into opportunities far beyond the reach of those with a STEM education alone. He continues with an expose of the significance and influence of the humanities in the average person’s everyday life, including film, music, and literature, even those who rail against the humanities as being insignificant to society. Brodhead views the cause for humanities advocacy as a personal mission and refuses to give way to the contention that the humanities disciples are doomed.
 
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Gary Day. “Why the Humanities Matter: A Commonsense Approach”, The Times Higher Education, July 09, 2009. http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=407285&sectioncode=26
 
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Day reviews Frederick Luis Aldama’s book Why the Humanities Matter: A Commonsense Approach, a defense of the humanities that’s presents a case of manipulation by US authorities to undermine the humanities through subsidising and controlling the humanities in order not to understand foreign cultures but rather to control them. Day makes an astute observation on the current role of academics in the current era. He points out that the academic, once a spokesperson to truth, has now become an apologist for it. According to Day, Aldama writes irately about the self-destructive nature of the Humanities in recent years, advocating for a return to the real issues of society, where the focus is not on the deconstruction of language but rather the crises of people’s lives.
 
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Christine Henseler. “Why the Humanities Matter: In Response to the ‘Crisis’: Let’s Respond” Why The Humanities Matter, Wikispaces, October 14, 2010. http://whythehumanitiesmatter.wikispaces.com/
 
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In 2010, Christine Henseler, Associate Professor of Spanish & Hispanic Studies at Union College, started a wiki to highlight opinion on the supposed crisis in the humanities. Her contention was that any such crisis was not found in an imagined competition between relevant schooling and non relevant schooling, her claim being that the Scientist, the Technician, the Engineer, and the Mathematician (STEM) all understand precisely why the humanities matter, but rather that the crisis was an imagined one existing only in the closed minds of individuals, some in power, some not. “So, where is the crisis?” she asks. “The crisis takes hold of closed minds that take on narrow views of life and learning. It is that simple.” Numerous responses to her challenge are added, supporting the humanities in their own right as well as influential in areas as diverse as mathematics to archeology. Supporting arguments are provided by professors of numerous disciplines including mathematics and computer sciences. Henseler argues that it is time to make our voice heard, ‘us’ being the educated and open-minded from all walks of life.
 
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Gabrielle M. Spiegel “The Case for History and the Humanities”, American Historical Association, Perspectives on History, January, 2008. http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2008/0801/0801pre1.cfm
 
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Spiegel posits that the problem for advocating the humanities lies in the approach, namely that the traditional approach that places an importance on the actual humanities as justified in of themselves, arguing that the understanding provided by the humanities helps us define what humanity is, preserving the tradition of the past, etc., is not enough of a defense, and means nothing to anyone but those engaged in the humanities. The common jeer to such advocacy, she points out, it that ‘no one ever died of the humanities.’ She believes rather that the humanities needs to hit home in currently historical and personal ways. The examples she provides answers the commonly snide assertion that ‘no one ever died of the humanities’, to which she rebukes by way of laying out several examples of people and entire communities, that, in our very lifetimes have indeed ‘died of the humanities’, or the lack of. Presented is Hitler’s interpretation of the value of live as one of the critical examples, 911 and all the aftermath due to it, as well as numerous ongoing efforts of genocide global wide as the very place that the humanities would build the critical bridges were they allowed to, in order to stop people from dying of the (lack of) humanities.
 
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“The Value of a Liberal Arts Education in A Time of Ecological Crisis”, Residence on Earth, October 7, 2012. http://anothergreenblogg.wordpress.com/
 
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Clara Fang, in a blog entry addressing the pros and cons of a humanities degree, paints a thoroughly complex and personal picture of the nature of life as she reflects on her experience first as an intellectual and feminist, and then as a wiser human being aware of the lack of education in her life experience, a missing education that was not provided her at university, but one which she felt should have been integral to her schooling. The main example she cites is the fact that her education prepared her to take on the world as a successful woman and feminist, but failed to address what it meant to actual choose between the options she had as a woman, including motherhood and marriage, and the implications of those choices. What does it mean to have children in a world already overpopulated with children who have little or no hope of survival? What are the implications of a sustainable environment populated by real people? Fang proposes a real life experience component as foundational to any liberal arts degree and outlines her theory on how that could be achieved.
 
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Ernesto Priego: [http://humanistica.ualberta.ca/2010/11/ernesto-priego-these-must-be-truly-apocalyptic-times-if-there-is-a-need-to-explain-why-the-humanities-matter/ “These must be truly apocalyptic times if there is a need to explain why the humanities matter”]
 
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:::“Humanities" is a very general term that refers to the enquiry into what makes us human. Why are we here? What do we do with the time we have on the world? What is our relationship with the planet and the tools and products of human ingenuity, physical dexterity and intellect? What can we learn from the past and the present in order to have a better future for all? These questions have been replaced by what is perceived as more immediate problems, such as how to make more money for the happy few or how to preserve the privilege of the already-privileged." - Ernesto Priego
 
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# learn from, and build on, history, and lessons learned through history.
 
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# fulfill democracy’s need for citizens who can think independently
 
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# learn how to think creatively and critically, to reason, and to ask questions.
 
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# help us understand the world we live in by exploring our connection to it.
 
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# provide the ability to envision the future by drawing connections to the past.
 
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# provide meaning to the empirical fact, provide insight beyond simple categories.
 
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# allow innovation & vision in science, politics and business through context
 
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# provide an ethical context for determining law and societal frameworks
 
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# to develop linguistic competency towards broader communications
 
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# provide an ethical framework for biological and scientific exploration
 
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# statistics posit that humanities graduates do incredibly well professionally
 
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A related set of arguments:
 
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* The humanities are about your stories, your histories, your cultures and your hopes.
 
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* The humanities develop our understanding, appreciation and enjoyment of life.
 
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* The humanities are about knowing yourself in different ways.
 
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* The humanities develop informed and critical citizens. Without them democracy doesn't flourish.
 
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* The humanities encourage us to think creatively and critically. They teach us to reason about being human and to ask questions about our world.
 
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* The humanities are about understanding others in the world through their languages, histories, and cultures.
 
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* The humanities help us understand where we came from and where we aspire to go.
 
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* The humanities are about all the important human things that can't be measured or predicted like love, justice, history, and desire.
 
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* The humanities around what humans express and communicate to each other. Without the humanities there would be no deep literacy, just noise.
 
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* Engineers solve problems, humanists think about what problems should be solved and which cannot.
 
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* The humanities provide the ethical framework on which our laws and democratic societies are built.
 
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* Without the human ability to know yourself, to understand others, and to communicate what you know to others, science and engineering are lost.
 
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Arguments for the Humanities
 
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# [http://www.timeshighereducation.co.uk/story.asp?storyCode=407285&sectioncode=26 Why the Humanities Matter: A Commonsense Approach]
 
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# [http://whythehumanitiesmatter.wikispaces.com/ WHY THE HUMANITIES MATTER~ in response to the "crisis," let's respond]
 
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# [http://humanistica.ualberta.ca/2012/09/why-do-the-humanities-matter-answers-from-the-2002-st-francis-college-humanities-day/ Why Do the Humanities Matter? Answers from the 2002 St. Francis College Humanities Day]
 
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# [http://www.historians.org/perspectives/issues/2008/0801/0801pre1.cfm The Case for History and the Humanities]
 
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# [http://www.guardian.co.uk/higher-education-network/blog/2012/jan/11/defend-humanities-graduates In defence of the humanities]
 
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Another set of arguments for the Humanties
 
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* BA’s teach rigorous thought as well as teach clear articulation of ideas. Useful for an individual as well as VITAL for a functioning democracy.
 
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* Skills in the arts and humanities don’t date, they are timeless and uniquely human.
 
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* Education is the biggest factor in promoting social mobility. The arts and humanities promote an education that does not assume its students occupy a fixed place in society.
 
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* The arts evaluate what is just, what is fair, and what is inherently good rather than ask just ‘will this make money’? They sustain our cultural and ethical lives.
 
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* The UK’s economy is dependent on its media, culture, and tourism. These fields are fuelled by the creativity of arts and humanities graduates.
 
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* Elitism assumes that only some people are interested in or have the time for the arts and humanities.
 
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* Without the capacity to think beyond repetition (ie creatively and freely) there is no beyond to crisis.
 

Revision as of 05:37, 23 October 2012

Arguments FOR the Humanities

Arguments AGAINST the Humanities

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