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The Need For Humanities In Business

Humanities majors have what it takes to succeed in the business world.

At least, that’s what INSEAD’s Sami Mahroum and Rashid Ansari believe.

In a new article for The Conversation, INSEAD’s Sami Mahroum and Rashid Ansari argue that humanities departments at universities need to work closely with b-schools to prepare humanities majors for the corporate world.

Not doing so, they argue, would leave a vast pool of leadership untapped.

Humanities Majors Offer New Perspectives

A number of experts argue that humanities majors can offer new perspectives, especially in the business classroom.

In an interview with Quartz, former Harvard director of admissions Dee Leopold argues that humanities majors have a main benefit to the b-school classroom—they’re comfortable with problems that don’t have just one correct answer

“They’re used to managing ambiguity,” Leopold tells Quartz. “They have an ability to think broadly, an ability to take a stand, and yet know there are other approaches.”

In an environment that’s saturated with finance or engineering students, Harvard Business School could benefit from new perspective, Leopold argues.

Yet, Leopold also understands that there is work that needs to be done to properly train humanities majors to transition into a b-school environment.

“You can’t come and be quant-phobic, or think someone else will do the math for you,” she tells Quartz. “But you don’t need business experience. Neophytes who need a primer in the language of finance can get up to speed on Harvard’s online platform, HBX, before their first class. This year, 140 took the online course.”

Universities Should Promote Humanities Leadership In Business World

Mahroum and Ansari say there are two steps that universities can take to promote humanities leadership in the business world.

For one, it starts with making training in humanities and liberal arts more relevant to business needs.

“We believe that integrating humanities and business at the university level would help develop a more agile and versatile workforce whose members can adapt much quicker to the marketplace’s changing needs,” they write.

Additionally, universities need to incorporate humanities and liberal arts training into STEM.

“For example, by introducing mandatory modules that would include learning about major works and key ideas in anthropology, philosophy and psychology,” they write.

Mahroum and Ansari argue that humanities students have what it takes to meet the modern demand of big data and analytics in the business world.

“Responding to the nuances of individual and community behaviors will offer a competitive advantage,” they argue. “We think that humanities graduates would be more adept at detecting, analyzing and understanding such nuances.”

Sources: The Conversation , Quartz