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[Opinion] Studying the Humanities

Posted January. 16, 2006 03:00,   


About 76 percent of CEOs in the U.S. majored in the humanities, and about a third of the CEOs of the top 1,000 companies in the U.S. either majored in business administration or earned MBA degrees, according to statistics released by Fortune magazine.

The number of executives who majored in the humanities is increasing in Korea, too. According to the Korea Listed Companies Association, the proportion of executives with humanities majors rose from eight percent to 12.2 percent last year.

In the West, the humanities deal with the study of human behavior. Because understanding consumer tastes and psychology are known as keys to business success, CEOs with humanities backgrounds stand out.

The value of the humanities is increasing in this transitional history period. Understanding the historic transition from the Middle Ages to the Renaissance offers a guide to predicting how the new digital era will unfold.

People value or disregard the humanities depending on the times, even though it remains the same. Our ancestors thought that the ideal person majored in literature, history, and philosophy, and mastered poetry, calligraphy and painting. Literature, history, and philosophy constitute training for reason, and poetry, calligraphy, and painting are used to train one’s sensitivity. People with a balance of reason and sensitivity are and have been considered ideal. Literature, history, and philosophy are integral to the study of the humanities.

Fabricated stem-cell research papers and “politics stained with reckless remarks or lies” are boomerangs resulting from our negligence in paying attention to the humanities. The Seoul city government is going to select 300 students who are taking doctorate courses in human studies as “scholarship students.” It is hoped that even though the move by the city government seems belated, it will be a ray of hope for the Korean study of the humanities. I hope that all sectors of our society join in the effort to revive it.

Hong Chan-sik , Editorial Writer, chansik@donga.com