Arts & Humanities: Don't Leave College Without Them

mobile applications, online brands for fashion or furniture; blogs for comedy, fitness, or cooking, to name a few—Millennials are writing their own rule- books, for no previous generation has pioneered such a medium in the way Millennial have. Indeed, entrepreneurship is “in”; while only 13% of Millennial respondents in a recent Forbes’ survey said their career goal involves climbing the corpo- rate ladder to become a CEO or president, more than two-thirds (67%) said their goal involves starting their own business (Asghar). Such popularity con- firms Millennials’ collective desire to make a tan - gible human impact, create a product, curate it to particular audience, and promote it through effec - tive communication channels, and thus utilize their distinctly human intellect.

day’s simultaneous automation and innovation revo- lution as an opportunemoment to cultivate this talent, from K-12 classrooms to community art workshops, in college departments and in marketing departments. Not only is this investment in creativity culturally rel- evant, but also economically savvy, as is anecdotally explained by MIT scientist David Autor, who theorizes why human bank tellers exist despite the invention of automated teller machines (ATMs): ATMs could do certain cash-handling tasks faster and better than tellers, but that didn’t make human tell- ers superfluous. Instead, it increased the importance of their problem-solving skills and their relationships with customers. The same principle applies if we’re building a building, if we’re diagnosing and caring for a patient, or if we’re teaching a roomful of high schoolers. As our tools improve, technology magnifies our leverage and increases the importance of our ex- pertise, judgment and creativity. Given this ongoing economic phenomenon, it would be wise for governments to invest in the discipline that best cultivates such “judgment and creativity,” or our most “human” abilities: the humanities. Defined as “the study of how people process and document the human experience”, the humanities touch upon disciplines such as philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history and language (Ober). In relating this field to workplace gains, Katie Cottle, chair of Human - ities at Wilmington University, explains that the stu- dents who make the greatest gains in critical thinking are those who “read over 50 pages a week and write over 20 pages over the course of a semester.” Like Autor, she reasons that, “Critical thinking is essential

a dark alley. To be “intelligent,” on the contrary, is to be logical, analytical, and quick-witted— more like the situational performances that IQ tests attempt to measure. Yet it is “wisdom,” Ar- istotle’s third tenet, that he considered the most important ingredient of intellect. Incidentally, it is also the most difficult to define, with some translating wisdom as “the supreme mode of discovering truth” (“The Idea”), and others clas- sifying it as a remarkable combination of insight, imagination and creativity. As proof of Aristotle’s unprecedented insight into today’s workforce, we might notice how many of the most satisfying and popular careers are ones that actively exercise human intellect. In addition to teachers and nurses, another pro- fession consistently-ranked as highly desirable is engineering, purportedly for the engineer’s ability to “come up with new designs that offer solutions to industry problems, a lot of freedom when testing ideas, and learn new skills on a daily basis” (Ferguson). Marketing specialists re- cently topped a separate list, claiming to enjoy the way a worker can “exercise creativity and problem solving in their task of building out a company’s market strategies” (Strauss). Yet perhaps the most popular “career” through which Millennials most actively practice their intellect and creativity are the ones they’ve cre- ated—spaces they’ve “self-started” for an en- trepreneurial end. Within these nontraditional spaces—YouTube channels, Soundcloud pages,

ed for many centuries. It likely dates back 2400 years to Ancient Greek philosopher and taxonomist Aristotle who, like Becky and Brad and most Millennials today, expressed dissatisfaction with the idea that our lives consist of the mere execution of tasks; instead; Aris- totle argued that humans are ‘[taxonomically] above’ such a daily routine. In a unique field he coined “tel - eology,” or “the study of the ends [of things]”, he ob- served: “How can it be that a carpenter and a shoemak- er have a proper function, but that a human being as such doesn’t have one? Or how can the eye, the hand, the foot each have their proper functions, but the indi- vidual as a whole does not?” Through this analogy, Aristotle suggests that humans are more than the sum of their parts; while we might have the ability to perform practical functions—scan barcodes, draft emails, input data intoMicrosoft Excel— these do not collectively encompass our holistic func- tion, nor do they represent our distinctly human poten- tial. Rather, Aristotle wrote, our most distinctly human ambitions involve the exercise of our most uniquely human capability: “intellectual virtue.” He added that the exercise of this virtue marked the “contemplative life” (bios theoretikos), the most godlike way of living and thus an end to which all people should strive. To achieve this end, Aristotle suggested we cultivate and exercise three sub-virtues of intellect: practical skills (phronesis), intelligence (synesis) and wisdom (sophia). By “practical skills,” Aristotle meant common sense and prudence—the sort of “knowledge” we ac- cess when we travel to a foreign country or walk down

Creation over Automation

Pablo Picasso, the esteemed early 20th century artist, supposedly once lamented to his friend Ger- trude Stein about the absence of creativity in adult life: “All children are artists. The problem is how to remain an artist once he grows up.” But if Picasso were to witness the way in which Mil- lennials are beginning to disrupt the traditional conception of work—prioritizing explosive passion and tangible human impact over job titles and salary benefits, choosing intellectual exercise and creative freedom over job security and corporate advance- ment—he might understand how creativity is be- coming an essential skill in the 21st century work- place.

More importantly, though, is how he would see to-


Arts & Humanities

Don’t Leave College Without Them


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