February 17, 2015
Why not Humanities?
The Humanities program is a process. It is a journey. Its curriculum is wondrously interconnected to ensure that its students receive a well-rounded education. I often find myself struggling to describe my program to others: how can I convey this idea of pursuing a degree for the purpose of life-long learning and how can I still make it sound marketable?
As my time in Humanities reaches its halfway point, I tend toward being less concerned about the latter issue but the former troubles me. I want my friends and family to understand why I am devoting myself to a program that seems to them to have emerged from the depths of history. While some pursue accounting and engineering, I spend my time reading Boethius, Eusebius and St. Augustine. Why?
I recently broached this topic with my fellow humanities students, affectionately known around the College as HUMSCHUMS; they were expectedly empathetic to my plight.
To these questions there may not seem to be an answer, but there are in fact many answers. There will always be naysayers, but as I sat around that table with my friends, I felt peace because they understood my point. This sense of community and connection is one of my favourite parts about the College of Humanities experience. We are a family; we are far from perfect, but we like being the motley crew of students that we are. Here and now we are happy, and that is what matters.
This brings me to my first answer to the question of “why humanities?” It brings us happiness. Last semester we were taught how happiness can indeed only be obtained while practicing the art of contemplation. Aristotle’s theory is correct in my mind. Happiness comes from pursuing a higher art, a higher intellect: contemplation.
My second answer regarding what kind of value a humanities degree brings to its students is that it challenges us. This semester I expected to hit the ground, not hit the ground running. First semester was a challenge. I was both frustrated and awed by everything; the concepts felt as if they were just beyond my intellectual grasp. That is what university is supposed to be about to me: honing your skills, yes, but even more importantly learning how to surpass your own supposed limits.
Second semester is off to a pretty good start: the philosophy is beautiful, the region dynamic, the art divinely inspired, and everything else – well, life will happen as it will. The present day is what concerns me. I cannot convince you of the Humanities’ importance and I do not need to. I believe in it. Sometimes all you need is to believe in yourself, and that is what the College has taught me.