Humanities in the 21st century

There’s been a lot of debate recently in governments and universities across the globe about the importance and value of Humanities in our education system against that of the increasingly dominant STEM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics).

But the Humanities are just as relevant – if not more so – now than they have ever been.

They help us make sense of the world and form the basis of social justice and equality. To keep our world human, we need to be able to observe it critically, think creatively, understand complex histories in depth, develop a strong moral sense, document the present with maximum objectivity, and strive for a civilised and harmonious environment.

This is what studying the Humanities instils in students. By analysing how people have tried to make moral, spiritual and intellectual sense of the world, it teaches empathy and understanding. It also requires us to deal critically and logically with subjective, complex, imperfect information.

By learning to weigh evidence skeptically and consider more than one side of every question, Humanities students build skills that are useful in all aspects of life and business.

These are skills that are increasingly sought after by employers. Graduates with this kind of independent and flexible thinking are able to make informed judgments, evaluate facts, detect hidden agendas or reveal underlying causes, and can present their ideas creatively.

The appeal of these skills is universal, meaning Humanities graduates are never pigeonholed into either industry nor location. The range of professions available is countless. From Publisher to diplomat, from Law to real estate, from journalist to designer – you name it, you can pursue it.

Not to mention the option of setting up your own business. Almost 60 percent of CEOs in the United States have degrees in the humanities, according to 4Humanities, and a study of the FTSE 100 companies showed that 34 percent of CEOs studied the Arts and Humanities, while only 31 percent had a Science and Tech background.

This should be proof enough to any critics who feel the Humanities are slipping in relevance in the 21st century. Clearly, they open the door to an abundance of opportunities and give you the transferrable skills to turn your hand to and excel in almost any industry.

Here are 3 universities teaching Humanities for the 21st century…


This young, dynamic university is ranked a remarkable 11th best in the world, according to the QS World University Rankings 2018. It is Asia’s best university and the world’s best “young university” in the QS Top 50 under 50. With accolades like this to its name, you know you are guaranteed an education of the highest standards.

At the School of Humanities in Nanyang Technological University, Singapore (NTU Singapore), this sterling reputation is in part due to the School’s world-class diverse faculty. Hailing from all four corners of the globe, the internationally recognised faculty add to the global perspective that the School applies across its subject base.

Focusing on key subject areas—Chinese, English, History, Linguistics and Multilingual Studies, and Philosophy—the School’s undergraduate and graduate programmes take you into in-depth analyses of key issues in culture and society.

Optimising on their location in Singapore—the vibrant hub of the Asia Pacific—NTU’s School of Humanities is a recognised expert in the Asia and Southeast Asia regions. In addition to disciplinary strengths in Chinese Studies, Comparative Philosophy and Multilingualism, the School also appreciates the importance of a multi-disciplinary approach to research and teaching. It undertakes research and offers courses in areas such as Interdisciplinary History, Neurolinguistics, Philosophy of Science, as well as Digital, Environmental and Medical Humanities.

The School’s small class sizes and personalised approach to teaching ensure each student receives a rigorous learning experience. By providing holistic education and mentorship, the School aims to groom and nurture leaders and researchers who can make a positive difference to future generations.


The School of Humanities at the University of Hong Kong is devoted to critical and creative thought through the study of what makes us uniquely human. The way we think and communicate, the objects we make and enjoy, our investment in events and institutions, our cultural practices and social values – all these things constitute the subject of the school’s teaching and research.

The school comprises six distinct departments: PhilosophyLinguisticsHistory, Comparative LiteratureFine Arts and Music. Each department is committed to providing students with a solid grounding in their own discipline in order to encourage interdisciplinary engagement within the school and beyond.

Many of the analytical, critical and communicative skills taught here will prove to be invaluable to any future profession.

The school also includes a Centre for the Study of Globalization and Cultures, which focuses on those themes with special reference to Asia, China and Hong Kong. Major research themes include: the cultures of capitalism; global flows of culture, media and technology; cities and globalization; new communities, publics, and identities; and postcolonialism and neo-liberalism.


The School of Humanities and Social Sciences plays a central role in Tsinghua’s mission to build itself into a comprehensive and open world-class research university.

It truly believes in being a pioneer in modern day thinking and strives to embrace the full spectrum of humanities and the integral role they play in, not only understanding, but advancing society – as is reflected in their mission statement: “Be conversant with the ancient and the modern, and versed in the Chinese and the Western; conjoin the humanities and sciences to innovate and make a difference.”

While building a solid foundation in the humanities, the school also places significant emphasis on the practical applications and interdisciplinary blending of subject areas.

The school has four departments that cover a broad range of subject areas: Chinese Language and Literature, History, Philosophy, and Foreign Languages and Literatures. They offer courses from undergraduate up to PhD and an impressive 20 interdisciplinary research institutions to explore your field of interest.

The School also actively seeks academic collaboration with institutions at home and abroad, and has set up extensive academic exchange programs with institutions in countries in North America, Europe, and Asia, and with institutions in Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau.

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