Humanities and Innovation

Students in vocational fields (engineering, business, finance, etc.) often think about general education courses, and especially humanities courses, as a check-list of useless hurdles to get past in order to graduate. Tuition-paying parents and career advisors under pressure from higher ups to get students to graduate quickly can often reinforce this view by discouraging students from double majoring or even minoring in “impractical” fields such as literature, philosophy or foreign language.  

Could it be that a purely practical approach to education is all wrong?

If we take Steve Jobs as an example, the answer is clearly “yes”. Jobs is “great” not simply because of his technical education but because he was an innovator. He was able to imagine the technological products and services people would desire before they existed. How was he able to do this?

A new book, The Innovator’s DNA, studies successful CEO’s and cites five common traits of innovative behavior: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and
networking, which they claim must be coupled with a “ceaseless
curiosity and willingness to take risks.” Breakthrough ideas, they argue, do not come from purely disciplinary or linear thinking, they are fueled by diverse experiences and ways of thinking, i.e., the kind of experiences and thinking that come from intellectual exploration and not from blind focus on one simple goal (studying one discipline, quick graduation, making money, acquiring trophies of success, etc.).

This information on innovative behavior could, of course, easily evolve into a new kind of check-list in students’ hands. Jobs himself has a better idea: open your mind… study the liberal arts. Jobs: “The reason that Apple is able to create products like iPad
is because we always try to be at the intersection of technology and
liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both.”

Read more on Jobs and The Innovator’s DNA here:

Read more on Steve Jobs and the Humanities in an earlier H+ post here:

Slate Magazine Needs Interns for this fall

If you’re looking for an writing/editing/research internship in DC or NYC, explore this opportunity at Slate. They’re looking for students studying culture and/or politics. More here:

Fall 2011 Deadline for Summer 2012 “Critical Language Scholarship Program”

A program of United States Department of
State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language
Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes overseas
in thirteen critical need foreign languages. 

Critical Language Scholarship (CLS)
institutes provide fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and
structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks for U.S.
citizen undergraduate, Master’s and Ph.D. students.

Arabic, Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi,
Turkish, Urdu: Beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

Chinese, Japanese, Russian: Intermediate or advanced level.

Countries may include: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh,
China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South
Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or others where the target languages are spoken.

If this interests you, act soon. More details here:

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.

Internship Possibility with UN in Vienna, Austria

You don’t necessarily need German to intern here. Either French or English–the official languages of the UN–would be sufficient. Details here:

Why Liberal Arts Matter (CNN)

CNN recently ran a story by Michael Roth on why study of the Liberal Arts is crucial for the future of our nation. Here is an excerpt:

“In recent years university leaders in Asia, the Mideast and even
Europe have sought to organize curricula more like those of our liberal
art schools. How, they want to know, can we combine rigorous
expectations of learning with the development of critical thinking and
creativity that are the hallmarks of the best American colleges?

in our own land we are running away from the promise of liberal
education. We are frightened by economic competition, and many seem to
have lost confidence in our ability to draw from the resources of a
broadly based education. Instead, they hope that technical training or
professional expertise on their own will somehow invigorate our culture
and society.”

more here:

Promising Future in Translation Careers

U.S. News reports that due to the global economy careers in translation will be taking off in the near future.

Excerpt from article:
Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Labor Department. Demand is driven by an increasingly global economy, as well as an increasingly large population of non-English speakers in the United States.”