The Santa Clara
April 26, 2018
The other night at the HUB, I was working with a writer who told me, “English is not practical; it wouldn’t bring me any additional value.” As a Writing Partner, I’ve seen some writers who absolutely hate the humanities. But this student, a computer science major, was an English buff. Despite his love for English, he didn’t see what value a humanities minor could bring to a STEM major. I personally believe anyone could benefit from a minor in the humanities in three ways.
First, job applicability. That’s why most of us are here at Santa Clara, isn’t it? As an accounting major, people frequently ask me how my English minor is applicable to any career in accounting. To them, I explain that writing and communication skills are necessary for any career path. Yes, you heard me; the end of CTW does not mean the end of writing.
Even though I self-identified as a strong writer before my minor, the classes I took helped me understand the depths of writing, argumentation and rhetoric in ways that will provide me value regardless of what I do with my career. Of course, an English minor isn’t for everyone, but that’s not to say that no humanities minor will suit you.
Recently, Harvard Medical School began incorporating drama and literature into its program to help medical students become empathetic and reflective doctors.
Whether you’re majoring in a natural science, engineering or business, the humanities can bring you value in unexpected ways. Humanities are making a comeback in the job market, and you’re putting yourself at a disadvantage by not utilizing the full benefits of a liberal arts education.
Which brings me to my second point: Beyond increasing the value of your degree, the humanities can help you develop as a person. In the humanities, we take the time to think about the issues of the world that many of us take for granted. The purpose of the humanities is to question how the world is currently and to think of ways it should be. As a person, engaging in this process can help you develop a critical conscience and questioning mind.
The humanities also enable us to think about issues from different perspectives. Philosophers look at issues in terms of truth and justice while historians understand current events as products of human experience. Regardless of your discipline, the humanities provide you with the opportunities and tools to be the thinkers of societies and not just the bystanders.
My third and last point is this: the humanities are genuinely fun. I love my major and the classes I took within it, but quite frankly, by your fifth upper-division, our majors can feel a bit monotonous.
Let the humanities be the breath of fresh air during your quarter. Don’t let it be something that stresses you out, but something that allows you to exercise a unique part of your mind and interact with different people.
The humanities offer us the unique opportunity to increase the value of our education and pursue our passions. Although I wasn’t able to communicate it to the computer science major, there is value to a humanities minor. Santa Clara, after all, is a liberal arts school; take advantage of the unique interdisciplinary education that it has to offer.
Matthew Bettencourt is a senior accounting and information systems double major with a minor in English. He is also currently a Writing Partner at the HUB Writing Center.