Commentary: Humanities at the heart of a holistic education in a tech-driven world

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Commentary: Humanities at the heart of a holistic education in a tech-driven world
Photo from Channel News Asia

The study of humanities has not become inconsequential as a result of the fourth industrial revolution. We need our humanists to understand technology and our technologists to understand the humanities, says Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh.

We are living through the fourth industrial revolution.

The first was the Agrarian Revolution followed by the second revolution termed as the Industrial Revolution which began in the 18th century and was powered by the invention of steam engine, electricity and mass production. The third revolution started in the 1960s with the development of computer, semiconductors, personal computers and the internet. The fourth revolution began at the start of the 21st century and is an expansion of the third industrial revolution. It is propelled by technology and digitalisation. Modern technology and innovation have led to organisations that disrupt the market. The urgency of shaping the fourth industrial revolution has led Singapore government to place emphasis on STEM and have its young generation be equipped with the necessary knowledge, skills and mindset to stay relevant. However, it is also essential to nurture these young individuals on the humanities.

It is important to study history because the lack of it can lead to inconvenience and the knowledge of history can empower you. As Chairman at the National Heritage Board for nine years, one of Ambassador-at-Large Tommy Koh’s initiative was to have markers to place tribute to significant individuals who had once visited Singapore. In diplomacy, Koh have learned that, as human beings, we think with both our heads and hearts.

Further, the study Literature cultivates an individual’s enjoyment of reading. Reading is an educational, joyful and liberating process. Reading literature benefits you to think, write and articulate distinctly. Clarity of thought and expression is a merit that should be nurtured. It allows one to have sophisticated comprehension of human nurture and its complexity. It also makes one less judgemental and more sympathetic. Literature also helps individuals to better fathom other countries and its people.

It is important to not forget about the humanities because the study of humanities teaches us think critically, to write clearly and articulate well.

Further, Professor Lily Kong, President-elect of SMU penned “In an age of hyper-technology, all the more reason why we need the humanities – to remind us of the glory and frailty of humanity, to retell the meaning of being human. Where robots can dispense medicines and chatbots replace human conversations, the jobs that will withstand the fourth industrial revolution are precisely the ones that require an understanding of human nature and a reliance on human empathy.”

Source: Channel News Asia

Participate in the upcoming QS Subject Focus Summit – “Humanities and Social Sciences Research” which will be held from 29-31 August 2018 in Venice, Italy.