The Value of the Humanities in the 21st Century
I am pleased to introduce this newsletter of the College of Humanities. Studying the Humanities in the 21st century has become more relevant than ever. This is more so in the context of the rapid changes in information technology as well as advances in the bio-technological sciences. The Humanities, in the broadest sense, equip us with the skills to deal with complex moral and ethical dilemmas, in a systematic manner. In our ever-changing, technology-focused world, the Humanities are needed to provide balance and perspective. The Humanities strengthen our global view, broaden our intellectual foundation, teach us to communicate clearly, help us to develop creative and critical thinking skills, teach us to be problem solvers, create engaged citizens and thinkers, reinforce cultural and ethical responsibilities and values, help us to understand the impact that science, technology, and medicine have had on society, and create well-rounded academics, students and thinkers. In studying philosophy, literature, religion, art, music, history, ethics, psychology, and language, students begin to see the interconnectedness of all areas of knowledge and how the Humanities and STEM subjects all fit together and complement each other. This inter-disciplinary approach to education, in which the Humanities and Sciences complement each other, positions us better to face the challenges of tomorrow, be they climate change, poverty, disease, as well as the challenges emanating from the rapid advances in science and information technology. These changes do not occur in a vacuum; they are deeply embedded in broader human realities, cultures, traditions, political and economic realities.
Degrees in the humanities, education and social and applied sciences, which are offered in the College of Humanities at the University of KwaZulu-Natal, remain relevant in the age of automation and the fourth industrial revolution. The humanities are predicted to give students robust human, social and cultural skills that are not easily replaceable, at least in the short to medium term, by machine learning. The articles in this edition present a range of issues that talk to some of these issues. They also touch on various achievements by our staff and students in the main areas of the University’s endeavour: research, teaching and learning, and community engagement.
DVC and Head of the College of Humanities
Professor Nhlanhla Mkhize