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Understanding society can help us solve the world’s greatest problems

Source: The New School

Today’s headlines tell us of a world in need of positive change. From an impending nuclear war to the devastating consequences of the refugee crisis, these events claim to threaten the things we hold most dear: our 4.53-billion-year-old planet, the arts and culture we have cultivated since, and most of all, our loved ones.

Given the manic speed and seemingly infinite news stories available to us today, our first problem appears to be finding a way to make sense of it all first. From thereon, we can identify which areas our natural talents and predispositions can best contribute towards the betterment of mankind.

But where do we start? While we understand the gravity of the facts and statistics our news channels bombard us with daily, we find it hard to make sense of it all.

It’s a sad reality but the good news is it need not be this way. There’s one area of society that not only has the potential to help us in our personal quest, but also brings great improvement to the world as a whole: education.

More specifically, the study of social sciences in university. Subjects like history and art, can offer us a corrective to the onslaught of information, teaching us how to view it from a bigger and fairer lens across large periods of times. They provide us with perspective on what’s happening now in contrast with what has happened over decades and centuries.

Source: The New School

While today’s buzzword in higher education is STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics), many countries are starting to include the social sciences in their blueprints for the future. Singapore, long-known for its emphasis on the hard sciences as a means to survive, is now switching its focus onto the humanities, an effort to the country competitive in today’s rapidly-changing world.

This shift isn’t just taking place in global parliaments. In the business world, employers are seeking candidates with crucial skills as the corporate world heads into the Fourth Industrial Revolution. In the World Economic Forum’s 2016 report ‘The Future of Jobs’,  it was found that the top three skills bosses want are complex problem solving, critical thinking and creativity. None of the skills coming from a rigid, hard sciences background are in the top ten.

Here are the top five schools of social sciences to start your journey towards building a better world:

THE NEW SCHOOL FOR SOCIAL RESEARCH – THE NEW SCHOOL

The New School for Social Research (NSSR) is a graduate institution in the heart of New York City that generates progressive scholarship and provides historically grounded education in anthropology, creative publishing and critical journalism, economics, gender and sexuality studies, historical studies, liberal studies, philosophy, politics, psychology, and sociology.

Look no further than the many departments and interdisciplinary centers at NSSR, offering master’s and doctoral degrees to 800 graduate students from more than 70 countries. Whether you’re discussing global migration at our Zolberg Institute on Migration and Mobility or feminist theory and women’s rights in a course with renowned Professor of Philosophy and Politics Nancy Fraser, your studies will benefit from a truly international outlook.

This diversity isn’t just confined to the classroom. NSSR’s location in New York City means students can capitalize on living in “the greatest social science laboratory in the world”. The New School is the place to be for any student or working professional seeking a postgraduate program committed to advancing social and economic justice. Students build new knowledge through research, become critical and creative scholars, and learn to grapple with the tensions of contemporary society.

COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCES – UNIVERSITY OF SASKATCHEWAN (USASK)

At uSask, students are spoiled with unparalleled academic options to choose from. For undergraduates, choose from more than 60 program options spanning three or four years, as well as honours programs.

Source: University of Saskatchewan

The diverse range of majors on offer span four broad subject areas – Fine Arts, Humanities, Social Sciences, and Science – for students to gain in-depth perspectives of the world on their terms.

At this beautiful Canadian campus, students can explore questions like “What does it mean to be human?” (Anthropology), learn the science behind wealth distribution (Business Economics), examine the structure and function of language (Linguistics) or find out the ethical foundations that shape our everyday actions (Certificate in Ethics, Justice & Law).

More information, including the full list of 60 programs can be found here.

COLLEGE OF ARTS AND SCIENCE – OHIO STATE UNIVERSITY

At Ohio State University’s (OSU) College of Arts and Sciences, the pursuit of knowledge is not the means to an end, but the start of whatever comes next. At one of the nation’s largest research universities, students get the intimacy of a liberal arts college while enjoying the perks of living in a leading public university.

This means students get to enjoy a 1:15 faculty to undergraduate student ratio and have 87 percent of classes with just less than 50 students, all while living on a campus with a US$284m budget and US$86m research expenditures.

OSU students don’t only win distinguished awards like Rhodes and Fulbright, but are also involved in some of the most interesting work in social sciences today. This includes producing Yiddish theatre classics, studying the stress levels of zoo-housed gorillas and advocating lawmakers on the advantages of biliteracy.

COLLEGE OF LIBERAL ARTS AND SCIENCES – KANSAS UNIVERSITY

At the heart of this Midwestern major public research and teaching institution is KU’s College of Liberal Arts & Sciences. With more than 50 departments, programs and centers, there are more than 100 majors on offer at this school. US News and World Report ranks the school top in the country for city management/urban policy as well as for Special Education.

Here, the classroom experience allows interaction and collaboration between faculty and students. Although the College has the most students on campus, large lectures are usually broken up into small group discussions of 4 to 8 students, allowing learners to engage with one another.

Juan José Castaño-Márquez, a Master’s in Fine Arts candidate said: “Here I have found the support and guidance of amazing practicing artists who have taught me to understand art in a way that I never could have seen on my own.”

Source: University of Saskatchewan

FACULTY OF SOCIAL SCIENCES – MCMASTER UNIVERSITY

This Faculty thrives on an experiential education system where students are provided a unique combination of education, career planning  and community involvement. Be it through internships with multinationals like Siemens and Johnson & Johnson, or academic placements within the local community, students at McMaster are able to enrich their classroom learning with hands-on experience.

McMaster students then graduate with a degree that serves as a fitting foundation to a diverse range of career options in healthcare, government and community service. Basically, it’s a world of opportunity out there!

Religious Studies & Sociology graduate, Cayley Stephenson, spoke highly about the role education has played in her rewarding career in social work today:

“Social Sciences made me realize that being “critical” is not a bad thing when done in an anti-oppressive, academic and holistic manner: Without critical thought, the world would never change for the better.”

*Some of the institutions featured in this article are commercial partners of Study International

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