HBR on Hiring Humanities Majors

Second Road’s Tony Golsby-Smith writes for a Harvard Business Review guest blog, “People trained in the humanities who study Shakespeare’s poetry, or Cezanne’s paintings, say, have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can’t be analyzed in conventional ways. Here are just a few things that the liberal arts crowd can help you with” [and he describes each in some detail]:
  • Complexity and ambiguity
  • Innovation
  • Communication and presentation
  • Customer and employee satisfaction

Naturally, a bit of debate ensued–humanities and science majors are both well trained for that. And I found myself relating to many angles discussed.

While I agree with most of Tony’s observations, I wouldn’t suggest that I might have prevented the BP oil spill.

But on the other hand, I never dreamed as a baby English major, even while taking turns on our academic journal’s dedicated typesetting computer, that my work would become dependent upon technology, and that I’d even become a passionate contributor to it. Maybe we can’t be classified by majors anymore.

We’ve always had our Renaissance examples. When I was sixteen, I visited a friend’s American-on-sabbatical family in Germany, where the physics professor dad designed my itinerary like a course in humanities, his true avocation. It seemed remarkable at the time.

Now what else could we be? How could we not be interdisciplinary, constantly learning, collaborative beings?

What a great era for creating–on as many canvases as possible!


Harvard Business Review: Want Innovative Thinking? Hire from the Humanities

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