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Oh, the humanities

Why study philosophy, history or language? What is the value of liberal arts? The answers may surprise you.

April 18, 2019

By Matt Watson

The humanities have a perception problem.

Fields of study such as philosophy, history and language are sometimes relegated to elective status in the court of public opinion. Disciplines that focus on “Why?” instead of “How much?” can get lost in a culture constantly calculating return on investment.

Somewhere along the way, the aptitudes developed by studying the humanities were deemed “soft skills,” as if critical thinking weren’t critical for everyone or “people skills” weren’t important for all people.


RED’s special report “Oh, the humanities” explores the importance of these fields of study in three “Whats:”

What's the ROI?

The goals of getting a good job and gaining a more meaningful understanding of life aren't mutually exclusive.

What employers want

When business leaders are asked what they really want in employees, they list qualities — not majors.

What's lost without them?

Humanities play a critical role as society grapples with artificial intelligence, migration, climate change and more.

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