Humanities Centre, North Carolina, to check the culture of hyper-rationalism in the US.
Borrowing the definition of humanities from the National Humanities Centre, she explained what values the subjects actually aimed to inculcate in students. “Humanities inculcated a sense of other minds and culture. It requires we award out attention to formal and textural features and understand their literal and manifested meanings. It invites individual interpretation and inference to cultivate critical thinking and the faculty of judgment. It awakens a sense of values and engages emotions and intellect simultaneously. It challenges our understanding of the world and enriches it,” she said.
“Liberal means to be generous. It means to be able to listen and record the voices of others with respect and without any judgment. Liberal arts are a fertile ground for the growth of self knowledge and they open up the way for tolerance, restraint, humility and, finally, wisdom.”
Underscoring its need in the modern world today, she pointed out that Google and Facebook had now begun hiring large numbers of liberal arts majors simply because they were able to better understand the users. “Recently, a professor in one of South Korea’s leading engineering universities asked me, ‘We are technically superior but how do we create a Steve Jobs?’” she narrated.
“His question could mean two things; one was that engineers need to think outside the box and, second, that the economy today needs people who can think outside the box.”
Dr Fitzgerald then shared how MIT had been able to produce well-rounded scientists by making it mandatory for all to to take at least eight courses in humanities and one in the arts. “Between 65 and 80 percent of our graduates are accomplished in performing arts and that is no coincidence,” she said.
“Only by using the deeper understanding developed by a thorough grounding in the technicalities of humanities and expression, will our scientists be able to immerse themselves in society and be able to use their skills for the benefit of all mankind.”