Great article and point.

As a software engineer [and former Literature Major [I prefer to call it that than English], I totally agree.

Some added points:

Humanities can make better leaders. Folks who get promoted to management primarily due to technical accomplishments need another type of reward. Management skills require an understanding of humanity, how to communicate, how to build teams. One of the most extreme examples of this was a knowledge hoarder who wasn’t even that gifted as a programmer — just at making indecipherable code and then not sharing knowledge about it. That person was made into a manager because he was too important not to. This perpetuated a bad culture within the organization. I feel even a person without a strong working knowledge of the tech, but someone who had a strong humanities background would have made a better leader.

Humanities knowledge can save time in onboarding and the hidden costs due to missing docs. I intend on writing a piece called “If I had a hammer…” about this.

Humanities knowledge fosters a big picture mentality. Who can be successful in a humanities program without, say, getting the bigger picture of a novel like Infinite Jest or a painting like Guernica? What about John Cage’s 4' 33'’. Humanities at its core is always asking: but wait, step back, take a look at it from many angles, or from a greater distance. While certainly a strong tech background doesn’t prevent this, I can tell you from my experience in tech fields [especially recently] and the folks I work with — specialization and laser focus on a single problem [installing x tool on y machine to use for z or finding the API parameters to do Z with X] is key. To manage a great team, you need to understand this mindset of specialization and laser focus, but you also must have the big picture thinking the humanities requires for graduation.

Multi-cultural respect and awareness. So many of my tech friends arrive at this through shows like “Star Trek”, or by necessity, but this was something I had to learn in my humanities program. My current team is spread across multiple geographies within the US, the UK, and India. Even within these geographies, it is critical to be sensitive to, capable of listening to, and able to respond to nuances in dialect, not language — but cultural. The humanities often has this kind of awareness as a core component and requirement for graduation.

Thanks again for the article!

Resident of Frogpondia.

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store