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"What’s the point of a humanities degree? I just don’t get it"

Anita Diaz

Anchor Contributor

Image drawn by Anita Diaz

The times I’ve received this sort of reaction are countless. Whether from family or friends or colleagues, my senses grow with guard at the sound of the obnoxious inquiry: humanities degrees are pointless. However, such an inquiry has caused a turmoil of doubt inside me. I began to reflect on my stubborn pursuit of history.

The act of studying humanities is quite natural in so much that humanities goes beyond the formality of academics. Academics is a later result of civilization whereas studying humanity stems from our innate human curiosity.

Human curiosity has always existed and continues to exist. Therefore we ought to deem it vital to our daily activities, social relationships and self-understanding.

It is here where I recuperated the confidence in my pursuit of what academics labels the humanities.

Only the question still remains, what exactly is the humanities? According to the Oxford Dictionary, the study of humanities involves a learning concerned with human culture, especially literature, history, art, music and philosophy. Moreover, humanities are people. So, what is the point of studying people? One can claim that the study of humanities does not train for a specific trade. A humanities degree is anything but a useless pursuit. It is my understanding that the act of studying people, including yourself, rewards you with an increased understanding of them.

In studying the humanities one finds that self-admiration first depends on them, as does receiving admiration from others-but first, it must come from them.

It is the same as saying an in-person experience with friends, family and colleagues welcomes greater human delight than any communication device.

You find that forgiveness toward another is a key in learning human perspective and strengthening relationships.

You find that in learning a stranger’s past and culture a meaningful -yet unlikely- companionship can emerge.

You find music is beyond rhythm. Lyrics, if listened to closely, teach us a great deal about who we are.

One can also find that urgency to complete daily tasks is pointless without the existence of others around us.

People, including oneself, teach us not only who we are or how we ought to be, but people teach us of a great need of what it means to be human.

As I see it, people need one another.

It is here where our innate human curiosity for humanities stems from; we need one another. There is no escape from this reality.

Therefore humanities is not useless. Rather it is a vital part of who I am, the relationships I form, the activities I pursue and the success of my existence.


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