“The calling of the humanities is to make us truly human in the best sense of the word.” – J. Irwin Miller
From age-old sketches across cave walls to time-worn folklore tales, the humanities have long been mankind’s means of decoding a complex world.
Our ancient ancestors recorded thoughts and feelings, created magnificent art, told fantastical stories and developed philosophical theories. Detailed research and analysis of these achievements reveal the intricate twists and turns of our past, offering a foundation that helps us understand and predict current and future trends.
When the relevance and credibility of this discipline comes under fire, it serves us well to take stock of its powerful legacy. Advancements in the humanities through the ages have come to define the very fabric of our existence. And since they have shaped the world today, they will greatly factor into our tomorrow.
But the world in which they were first conceived is fundamentally different to the one they’re used in now.
The current digital age is one centred on disruptive technologies, thriving on change and rapid-pace development. In this world, failure to adapt breeds the very real danger of becoming obsolete.
As the basis of all common knowledge we’ve come to discover, research in the humanities must continue to evolve to meet the challenges of life in the twenty-first century.
“Tackling today’s biggest social and technological challenges requires the ability to think critically about their human context, which is something that humanities graduates happen to be best trained to do,” explains Vivek Wadhwa of The Washington Post.
Research in the humanities has driven advances in diverse fields, from healthcare to robotics. Humanities graduates influence every major sector and tackle the greatest issues in our world, while leaders increasingly look for support from those who understand every layer of the human condition.
The masterminds who forge our path through the intricate turns of these disciplines are empowered by higher education. Statistics have revealed the humanities to hold the most popular subjects studied among global leaders.
Known for research excellence and technological innovation, Nanyang Technological University‘s (NTU) standing at number 12 in the QS World Ranking positions it among the global academic elite. Topping the QS Top 50 Under 50 chart for the fifth year in a row, NTU’s research is known and respected across all corners of the globe.
This institution is unique in its provision of world-class research and teaching in the humanities, while its position in Singapore, Southeast Asia’s global hub of cultures and economies, makes it a desirable study destination.
Here, researchers work on core humanities subjects like English, History, Philosophy, Linguistics and China Studies, contributing to a range of interdisciplinary research clusters which blend teams of researchers from the humanities and sciences.
NTU offers two prestigious postdoctoral fellowships schemes and many opportunities for doctoral research:
The NTU Presidential Postdoctoral Fellowship is a huge draw towards NTU’s research scene. This scheme offers a two-year tenure, generous research grant and sees researchers empowered by world-class mentorship and support. Committed to the recruitment and development of leading humanities scholars, this postdoc appointment holds a pathway to assistant professor status.
The CLASS Postdoctoral Fellows examines key interdisciplinary themes that help us interpret the world. This is a space in which healthcare issues are viewed from a humanistic perspective; where science and technology are observed within their societal context; and where digital art is seen as an integral pillar of humanities study.
The Green Humanities is one such cluster, researching the impact of humans on the environment. It covers culture, politics and relationships between people and their surroundings, instilling a bedrock of knowledge that can be transformed into real solutions.
The Medical Humanities is a vibrant, interdisciplinary research cluster with three key areas of focus, including the history of medicine, doctor-patient communication, and stories of sickness told by patients and represented in literature.
Gender Studies is another theme offered – a topic that has gained increasing importance in recent decades. The ongoing global discussion surrounding class, age, gender and ethnicity is one that can’t be missed, and NTU’s Gender Studies research fellows gain knowledge and experience in a rapidly-evolving field.
“These are some of the interdisciplinary research areas that are stretching the definition of what humanities can be and in some ways, speaking to matters of immediate concern,” Asst. Prof. Matthews adds.
Public engagement is another core component of NTU’s research culture. Here, learners are given the opportunity to collaborate with museums, libraries and other external agencies, allowing them to see their hard work come to life within the public sphere.
As a progressive institution that serves the needs of a global society, NTU is on a constant quest to innovate and advance. The newly-founded NTU Institute of Science and Technology for Humanity (NISTH) is a centre of excellence dedicated to the ways technology influences human behaviour, culture and society, and will also house the Digital Humanities Lab; a cutting-edge workshop set to open in November 2018.
The facility will provide seed funding for teams of researchers to develop substantial research projects. It will become a crucial space for humanistic reflection, uncovering how digital is revolutionizing both culture and society.
“I want to teach in a place where my students have an emotional connection with their material and are passionate about it,” Asst Prof Matthews explains.
“We tend to talk about great individuals from the past who made astonishing breakthroughs but we forget that they had an entire support network and that they were taking inspiration from the past. My advice, if any, would be to be open to others’ ideas.
“Collaboration and co-operation are crucial elements of any successful society and it is only by working together that knowledge is shared; it is only through shared knowledge that everyone benefits.”