Defending the Humanities to Non-Majors

In October of 2010 Prof. Alan Liu (U.C. Santa Barbara) liked a post of mine sent to a Digital Humanities listserve and asked me for permission to publish it on 4Humanities, his website devoted to advocating for the study of the humanities. He titled it “An Instructor’s Ground-Level Defense of the Humanities to Students.” The post describes in brief what I describe in more length elsewhere — that education is not only vocational training. But in doing so I introduce my “Consider the Cow” lecture. Read on…

4 Replies to “Defending the Humanities to Non-Majors”

  1. Thanks James for your sharing, I like what you said about ” Education is not only about vocational training”! It reminds me of an ancient Chinese analogy of ” trees in the forest “: the most useful (well-trained and skilled) tree get chopped down first for making tables, chairs, bookcases, etc. and the gnarliest one got left to live its full life. At the threat of forces from different angles, higher education seems to be loosing its direction. It tries to ease the tension of this pull by orienting to think its purpose is to produce skilled would be employees for the industrial world. I have been observing this with a great concern yet till after reading your article, and your ‘consider the cow’ lecture, I realise what it is that has concerned me about education! Thank you for your inspiration.


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