Posts in "+Humanities"

Study Literature First, Then Learn to Code

A recent New York Times Op-Ed suggests a humanities background is just the thing for future software developers. Challenging the view that students interested in careers in software should learn to code at the expense of other priorities, Bradford Hipps makes the case for devoting the undergraduate years to liberal arts. Software, he argues, is “far more creative than algorithmic” which makes a liberal arts background uniquely helpful in solving the kinds of challenges developers face.

Follow the link below to the full piece.*

To Write Better Code, Read Virginia Woolf


*Thanks to Scott Miller for the reference.

The Digital Convergence of the Sciences and Humanities

Brown University professor Elias Muhanna offers an account of how a digital humanities project with a cross-disciplinary focus  altered his relationship to his work. He draws upon this experience to generalize about the role of digital scholarship in the future of the Humanities.

Muhanna’s piece appeared in The New Yorker linked below.*
Hacking the Humanities


*Thanks to Melinda Semadeni for the link.

Impact of Study Abroad vs. Overseas Internship


For students who hope to gain the most career impact from study abroad, results indicate that they should choose an internship as part of their curriculum. Remarkably, 70 percent of intern respondents reported that study abroad ignited interest in a career direction pursued after the experience, compared to 60 percent of non-intern respondents. In addition, 83 percent said that it allowed them to acquire skill sets that influenced their career path, compared to 75 percent who did not intern.

Although there is not always a significant statistical difference between students who attended local university classes and those who did not, it is important to mention that students who attended courses at the local university did experience greater long-term language benefits and were more likely to work or volunteer abroad than their counterparts. The biggest difference between the two groups is in the area of relationships. Of those who attended local university classes, 31 percent still maintain contact with host-country friends, compared to 16 percent of respondents who did not study at the local university.

more here:

Canadian B-Schools Leading Out on Internationalization


At Canadian universities, business schools are light-years ahead
of the rest of the campus in raising their global profile.

Intensive foreign-student-recruitment efforts, friendly Canadian
immigration rules, mandatory study-abroad requirements, and, in
some cases, the option to pursue programs in multiple languages
have combined to pack a punch in recent years.

More here:

Liberal Arts: Portal to Anywhere

President Michael T. Benson of Southern Utah University argues for the economic and civilizational necessity of training today’s youth in the liberal arts, and he does this in an economic and cultural climate increasingly hostile to the humanities and other disciplines whose immediate monetary value is not obvious.

Here are his key points:

“Difficult economic times such as we are in
certainly require job and skill training that can result in immediate
employment, to be sure. Nonetheless, to argue that Utah students
enrolled in more traditional liberal arts programs have nothing to offer
in terms of applicable job skills for the real world reveals an
alarming ignorance of the irreplaceable value of a liberal education.”

“At its core, LEAP (Liberal Education and America’s Promise) states and institutions are
committed to producing graduates with the portable skills necessary to
ensure success in today’s uber-competitive global environment: knowledge
of human cultures and the physical and natural world; intellectual and
practical skills; personal and social responsibility; and integrative
and applied learning.”

more here:

Why Reading the News is Crucial

Here is a point frequently made to me by employers: today’s students don’t know much about the world around them, they don’t read the news, they can’t connect the dots.

Is this you?

When I ask students on campus about this observation, many agree. They find the news boring or disturbing, they don’t have time (but I’m guessing they have time for Facebook), they don’t like politics, they don’t see the connections to their life, and so on.

The most lofty goal for staying abreast of world events is to become an informed citizen in a democratic society. When you go to vote and you know little about the underlying economic and socio-political forces driving current events, on what basis do you decide?

A more down to earth, but interrelated, reason is that many employers–from government agencies to business–require their hirees to be informed about current events. It’s not enough to speak a foreign language, to live abroad or to scan Yahoo headlines; to impress top-shelf employers, you need to be able to demonstrate global awareness and to develop a well-reasoned analysis of issues that matter in the real world. The best way to get started is to regularly consult major newspapers and weeklies (NYT, Wash Post, LA Times, Newsweek, New Republic). At a recent conference on higher education, business people and educators pointed to The Economist as an ideal source of weekly analysis. It’s an intelligent, brief and extremely well-written magazine with academic discounts for students. I quote from a CEO of an international company: “If students would just read the Economist every week they’d be ahead of the game.”

Even better for BYU students: if you know a foreign language, use your competitive advantage and read major papers and political magazines from your language area.

If you’re not reading the news, start today.

Choosing a Career by a Salary Chart is Shortsighted

Consider these two facts:

1. 40% of all Yale students graduate in a
humanities/social science discipline. 

2. Among the Stanford Business School’s MBA graduates of
47% majored as an
undergraduate in either the humanities or a social science.

What’s going on here? What secret about the humanities are these Yale and Stanford students in on? Why would they spend so
much money and energy on so-called “useless” disciplines that many people in the media say “lead to nowhere”?

To understand this conundrum and to avoid making an inappropriate career choice based on popular mythology, make sure to understand what you want out of life and to take the proper, evidenced-based steps to get there. You might be surprised to discover that you can follow your passion and make a good living. 

Read more:

*Thanks to Ed Cutler for the link.