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Humanities Means Leadership

Dr. Ken CruikshankWe firmly believe that studying the Humanities helps students develop many invaluable transferable skills that are essential in today’s world. In particular we feel that a Humanities education is a fantastic educational foundation for future leaders. Here’s what the Dean of Humanities, Dr. Ken Cruikshank, has written on the subject:

At McMaster, Humanities means leadership. 
Look at any list of the attributes of effective leadership, and what do you find?

  • Strong personal and ethical values
  • The ability to influence others by making reasoned, well thought out arguments
  • Emotional intelligence, achieved both by knowing oneself, and by being able to see the world from the perspective of others
  • Social intelligence, the ability to collaborate, to engage others in conversation, to be sensitive to social situations and to work with those culturally different from ourselves
  • Communication, conveying complex ideas in clear and inspiring ways
  • Creativity, particularly an openness to new ideas and a willingness to question everything, not for the sake of asking questions, but to make this a better world

These are the so-called “soft skills”.   The “soft skills” build careers.  The “soft skills” build leaders. They are the skills that build leaders in our communities, in our neighbourhoods, in our classrooms, in our social agencies, in our arts organizations, and, yes, in businesses, from corporations to start-ups.  And do you know what?  Employers in all sectors are finding that these soft skills are hard.   Hard to find.  And hard to teach on the job.

That’s where Humanities comes in.  In our disciplines, we focus on values, on developing persuasive and rational arguments, on communicating complex and challenging ideas, on collaboration, on creativity, and on critical and constructive thinking.  Our students go on to successful leadership roles as lawyers, doctors, teachers, professors, policy analysts, journalists, museum curators, artists, musicians, translators, speech language pathologists, and business executives, to name just a few.

How you get there is up to you.  We offer a broad range of programs, many of which can be taken in combination.  They include: Studio Art, Music, Theatre and Film, Art History, Classics, History, Communication Studies, Multimedia, English and Cultural Studies, French, Cognitive Science of Language, Linguistics, Peace Studies, Philosophy, and Justice, Political Philosophy and Law.  You can combine most programs with those in Social Sciences, Mathematics with English, French, History or Philosophy, or Biology and Philosophy.  We offer courses in a variety of languages and in women’s studies, many of which can lead to a Minor.  Students may also take a Specialized Minor in Commerce, an Interdisciplinary Minor in African and African Diaspora Studies or Archaeology.

We look forward to having you in our classrooms, our workshops, our performance spaces and our laboratories.  We will work with you and help you work with others to build the skills you need to be the agents of change that our world so desperately needs.