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Oh, the Humanities!

With the continually rising global demand for STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) talent, the value of humanities education has, at times, been called into question. The humanities, though often regarded as ‘soft’ subjects, are in fact just as important as ever in this digital age and as ‘marketable’ as any other ‘pragmatic’ disciplines.

One may wonder whether humanities graduates can thrive in a world with rapid economic, scientific and technological developments. Transferable skills such as (intercultural) communication and critical as well as creative thinking are highly sought after by employers in the modern workforce. Humanities students learn not only how to write; they learn how to read a variety of texts and look at them from different perspectives. They learn how to think critically and to question. They become sophisticated professionals who understand better the nature and cultures of human beings, and hence are able to find optimal solutions to complex problems in an increasingly multicultural workplace and amidst a fast-changing world. Together with a broad knowledge base, these are the skills that humanities programmes guide students to learn before they graduate.

The teaching quality, academic programme and curriculum design play a large part in an excellent education in humanities. PolyU Faculty of Humanities (FH) has gained worldwide recognition in several rankings in terms of its academic reputation, employer reputation and research impact. In the 2017 Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings, the subject of linguistics – the discipline to which a majority of FH staff members belong – is ranked 34th internationally while the area of arts and humanities is ranked among the top 20 universities in Asia* and 106th in the world.

FH academic and teaching team consists of a good mix of nationalities and cultural backgrounds: more than 200 staff come from all over the world including Australia, Denmark, Iran, Japan, Korea, Sweden, the US and the UK to name a few. Our highly internationalised faculty members have been awarded external competitive research funding and involved in collaborative projects with international partners.

The international network of FH – with partners including Corporate Communication International, Erasmus Mundus and Eurasia-Pacific Uninet – provides our students with global exposure through exchange programmes, internships and placements. The proportion of FH students engaged in outbound exchange is among the highest across PolyU departments. Not only are our programmes globally mobile, they also comprise the right balance between breadth and depth. Students are required to take up GE (general education) subjects and WIE (Work-Integrated Education) besides the discipline-specific subjects for their major study. To open more doors for students after graduation, our programmes allow curriculum space for a minor or other free electives.

What humanities subjects teach is more important now than ever – to explore and understand the complex world and people through languages, history and culture, and to imagine and to build the future through lessons and insights drawn from the past. FH students are provided an education that encourages them to embark on a journey of transformation: to transform oneself and the world, making it a better place to live in.

*By regional filtering of Quacquarelli Symonds World University Rankings by Faculty 2017.

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