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What are the humanities good for?

Peter Cai at The Age:

At the global financial hubs in London and New York, corporate employers are happy to take on archaeologists, philosophers or even cello players. It is not uncommon to see people with classics degrees running mergers and acquisitions departments of major banks.

In Britain, the highly regarded chartered accountant program is open to anyone with a degree and yet in Australia the program is only open to accounting students. The sad fact is that arts graduates are seen as second-class citizens in the Australian corporate job market.

I expect to hear more of this sentiment in the next few years as people increasingly come to realise that the big challenges we face require the multidisciplinary imagination, empathy and well-stocked memories that are the key strengths of humanities education. Nevertheless, it is telling that the observation is coming from the outcomes-focussed business sector and not from the humanities, who have been noticeably poor at arguing for their own value and continued existence.