I got off on a bit of a rant the other day about bad defenses of "the humanities," but there's a bright side. It finally got me to write my own, over at Forbes, which is basically the last piece of a tetralogy of advice for students:
-- Why small colleges are a great place for students majoring in STEM subjects
-- What students planning to major in STEM subjects should make sure to do in college
-- Why non-STEM majors should nevertheless take science classes in college
-- Why STEM majors should take "humanities" classes, and take them seriously
That last one, posted yesterday, is my attempt to mount a defense of "the humanities" while avoiding the failure modes that make most such essays incredibly irritating to me. I tried to keep it as concrete as possible without going into citing specific works (which would inevitably become a giant distraction from the actual point), and talk about ways the skills developed in studying art, literature, history, philosophy, and the rest will help students be more successful in their chosen field.
Kate's half-seriously suggested that my next book should be an academic manifesto; that's not going to happen, but at least you have these four posts.
Also, I'll tack in a reminder that if you're reading this blog, Paige Jarreau would like to know some more about how and why you got here for her postdoctoral research on science communication online. There's a short survey, for SCIENCE!, and she's offering some giveaways and stuff if you're into consumerism.
- Log in to post comments
Nice article at Forbes. Not sure I get your defense of postmodernism, though. It might be argued that it's just an approach that's long been implicit in criticism but that's been rebranded as a 'thing.'
As you noted, defenses of the humanities tend to be rather, um, high-flown. That would be consistent with a view lacking in perspective. While I think STEM types definitely need to take in more humanities, perhaps they'd feel a little more welcomed if practitioners had enough science education to properly accommodate a science based world view.