With a Deloitte report finding that 80 percent of respondents were unhappy with their work, it’s no surprise that self-help books on how to change or improve your career are everywhere. It also explains why the freelancing economy and Pinterest passion boards are all the rage these days.
But why settle for a side gig when with a little planning and real-world experience, you can find your calling in a long-term job you love.
The humanities have an edge in this pursuit over other subjects like STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), mainly due to the social element of these subjects. This is a big want among millennial workers; a 2017 study by The Society for Human Resource Management found that “94 percent of millennials want to use their skills to benefit a cause and 57 percent wish that there were more company-wide service days”.
For millennials, social impact is not only a want but a need in potential employers. Money matters, but so does wanting to make the world a better, more compassionate, more innovative and sustainable place.
Where better to start this journey than a degree in the humanities?
This broad field of study helps us learn what it means to be human, and according to acclaimed author and literary genius David Foster Wallace, the most important education we can receive is one which “isn’t really about the capacity to think, but rather about the choice of what to think about”.
Philosophy, for example, lays out all the choices we have in tough situations. In still painting classes, we follow the footsteps of Paul Cézanne and Vincent Van Gogh, learning how to do the seemingly impossible: lengthening time by noticing everyday mundane objects, instead of merely seeing them.
The social sciences guide us in how to deal with the external world at large, from large movements of refugees, to the best modes of governance, to the alleviation of poverty.
By applying what we learn in real-world settings, we are able to push for innovative and sustainable solutions, not just in academic circles but even in places like big financial institutions and even Silicon Valley.
Now more than ever, algorithms need a moral compasses while lending policies must seek to put individuals as a collective first and foremost, over investment bankers. Who better do this than humanists?
If work, to you, is about leaving the world a better place than before, start your journey at these top faculties for the humanities:
If one university beats the myth that you won’t be able to find a job that’s both soul-satisfying and lucrative, it’s Curtin University. The Faculty of Humanities at this Australian university is where Oscar-nominated Andrew Joseph learned the filmmaking trade.
The nominee for Best Visual Effects at the 90th Academy Awards credits his Curtin education for teaching him the fundamentals of art and design, making him a “well-rounded artist who can approach any creative situation with ease and produce work that is both realistic and visually pleasing”.
Ranked in the top 100 universities in the world for the subjects of Architecture and Built Environment and Education, and in the top 200 for Geography, Art and Design and Communication and Media Studies, Curtin is where students get a world-class, industry-aligned education (Source: QS World University Rankings by Subject 2018).
Its industry partnerships give students valuable work-integrated learning, field work and exchange opportunities, as well as collaboration with professionals in Australia, such as the Sustainable Built Environment National Research Centre (SBEnrc), Australian rules football club Fremantle Dockers’ ‘Docker TV’ and the Virtual Design and Construction (VDC) Cooperative, focussing on equipping students with the digital skills needed for the changing demands of the built environment industry.
Through the Faculty’s international partnerships, students get to collaborate with international design studio HASSELL, IREAD (Indian Rural Education and Development), the China Australia Writing Centre, Digital China Lab and Vietnam’s LIVEABILITY international symposium, just to name a few.
As resource-scarce Singapore departs from its emphasis on STEM to plant more focus on the liberal arts, this flagship institution is where the much-needed changes in human thought starts.
Beyond its campus, NUS students pursue Immersion Programmes (to learn a language in an environment where little else but the language is explored), Field Study Modules (to apply what’s learned to real-world settings), Student Exchange Programmes (one semester at a partner university) and NUS Overseas College (a part-time internship in a technology-based start-up company with part-time courses at reputable universities).
The recent Roots & Wings 2.0 initiative, on the other hand, is aimed at equipping students with essential soft skills for their better functioning in the face of an increasingly complex and volatile environment. Offered by the Department of Psychology in collaboration with the Centre for Future-Ready Graduates, the programme contains modules that teach values like resilience and collaboration.
Think critical, creative and world-class teaching and you think the Graduate School of Humanities at the University of Melbourne. This is where you can acquire a graduate degree, undertake industry placements and pursue extensive research projects, all under one roof.
Professor Denise Varney, Dean at the Faculty of Arts, said: “Our programs foster social, political and cultural understanding, critical and creative thinking, and allow you to apply your skills and knowledge to real world situations. You’ll develop advanced knowledge in your discipline area and acquire professional skills for a rewarding and meaningful career.”
The school’s alumni list contains a notable array of changemakers. Mishma Kumar, for example, Master of Social Policy graduate, now supports people affected by drug and alcohol issues as a Senior Alcohol and Other Drugs Clinician at Odyssey House.
Bronwyn Tilbury, on the other hand, Master of Development Studies graduate, heads the International Women’s Development Agency’s (IWDA) Women’s Action for Voice and Empowerment (WAVE) program, which aims to put more women in positions of power across the Asia Pacific, increasing women’s roles in community decision-making.
Tilbury credits her program’s success to the combination of her experience in Fiji and the theoretical grounding of the Master of Development Studies, which has been “very useful” throughout her career.
Teaching at the School of Humanities and Creative Arts at the University of Canterbury comes with a heavy dose of passion, backed with research by leaders making impact in their fields, locally and internationally.
Students are prepared for jobs that didn’t exist 10 years ago and those yet to be created. This is where the connectors, creators and communicators for a changing world are born.
“UC Arts graduates know how to get things done. They learn to lead and how to mobilise to effect change. They have energy and enthusiasm and believe there’s no one stopping you apart from yourself,” says Associate Professor Bronwyn Hayward.
To do so, UC partners with businesses and community organisations, with the aim of arming students with the knowledge, skills, experiences and confidence needed to engage in the critical decisions necessary in the 21st century world.
Ashley Stuart, a Bachelor of Arts student describes how her degree includes “real-life work experience” in another country: “I’m learning so many transferable skills, going out into the workforce and travelling as part of my degree. I think real-world experience is the best education tool you can get…It’s made me more open minded and helped me focus on what I’m truly passionate about.”
*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International