The case for humanities

Humanities graduates are not hired for their content knowledge or process skills but they are valued for their ability to work across boundaries and bring flexible solutions to complex problems that defeat discipline-specific specialists.

“A humanities degree equips graduates with the tools to better understand their society, its institutions, and the behaviours and motivations of others,” Deloitte Access Economics argues in a  report for Macquarie University on “the value of the humanities.”

And while humanities grads do not earn as much as people in other disciplines, their work in the public sector is important for society as a whole. “Wage premiums fail to capture the positive externalities that public sector work has for the remainder of society. The public sector has the critical role in providing public goods, which are a key determinant of higher quality of life and economic development for the community as a whole.”

There is a great deal more along these lines, making a case for humanities which appears to reflect people in leadership positions worrying their work is undervalued and undergraduate numbers at risk. It’s reminiscent of the complaint in May by the Deans of Humanities Arts and Social Sciences who lamented their disciplines’ share of new research infrastructure funding was less than 1 per cent ( CMM August 6).


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