About one year has passed since Humanities Week was held by the Korea Research Foundation (KRF) and the University deans who made up the nationwide Humanities Study Group. Hosts and participants, including many college professors, students, and intellectuals resolved to spread the academic influence of the humanities to other subjects such as business administration, economics, and the natural sciences as well as to the general public. They wanted to counter the image of the humanities as impractical or unrelated to the real world.
Following the first Humanities Week, a second Humanities Week, held from October 8 to 12, featured many events and lectures emphasizing the imperative need of the humanities to cooperate with other, applied fields. Despite such attempts, many people still consider the humanities too remote from the real world.
Many humanities majors still double major in business administration, law, or economics in hopes of getting a better job. Parents believe that their children will make more money if they become lawyers and doctors, which will lead them to live a comfortable and happy life. Company managers prefer business majors to English majors since they assume that the latter lack business skills and knowledge.
But one of the most important message of Humanities Week, one that most people seem to have missed, is that the humanities are important as the core of all types of study, not just when they can cooperate with other, more applied fields.
At the Humanities Week forum, Park Cheul, a judge of the Seoul High Court, said, “The humanities studies should be included in the curriculum of law school since the purpose of establishing law school is to cultivate ‘generalist’ lawyers, who have wide general knowledge and a vision of the world.” Famous CEOs also cry out for the creativity and emotional management which accompany study in the humanities. Likewise, even the most realistic and practical studies require humanistic knowledge, and many economic and social problems require humanities solution.
Although the importance of applied studies like economics, business administrations and law has increased, and human life has become more complicated, this does not mean that the significance of the humanities has decreased. Rather, to enrich the world of the 21st century, society and companies should change their deep-rooted negative perception of the humanities as unimportant. Of course, there also should be a huge effort, by college humanities professors and intellectuals to make the humanities harmonize with other studies.