In preparation for the upcoming Buffalo Humanities Festival, held September 26–27 on the Buffalo State campus, Anthony Chase, assistant dean for the School of Arts and Humanities, speaks to the importance of the humanities today—and the continuing popularity of these disciplines at Buffalo State.
The college’s Theater and Music departments have each doubled in size over the past decade. Likewise, the Communication Department is booming. This comes as a time when some have discounted the humanities as a viable field of study in favor of more lucrative careers in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields or finance, medicine, or law.
Counter to what some may believe, Chase said, study in art, music, literature, theater, and film prepares young people for a host of careers, including the above.
“Doctors also can be poets and novelists and musicians,” he said. “The meeting of the scientific and the artistic creates some of the most exciting things. What are the movies, for instance, if not the meeting of humanities and science?
Additionally, study in the humanities provides students with many of the soft skills employers seek.
“Every profession requires that its practitioners know how to communicate, how to work through problems, how to think outside the box,” Chase said. “Look at what our students learn from theater—punctuality, refining something to the point of perfection, clarity of communication, marketing, customer service, and putting petty differences aside to get something done.”
Chase noted that many successful Buffalo State alumni—professionals in a wide swath of successful careers—studied the humanities as undergraduates and thrived.
“The bottom line is that the study of humanities prepares all of our students at this liberal arts institution to address the complex questions of our lives and the world,” he said.
While those who major in humanities disciplines may earn less on their first job, they do catch up over time and are fundamentally happier than they would be in a job that did not suit them.
“What I ask students who come to me to talk about potential careers is, 'What is it that excites you?'” Chase said. “Be it math or art, it must speak to you for you to be successful.”
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