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Дискусии (Topics for Discussion), Новини (Announcements), The relevance of the humanities

Why Society Needs Historians

The Social Historian

‘Society doesn’t need a 21-year-old who is a sixth century historian. It needs a 21-year-old who really understands how to analyse things, understands the tenets of leadership and contributing to society, who is a thinker and someone who has the potential to help society drive forward.’

Thus spake Patrick Johnston, Vice Chancellor of Queen’s University Belfast, in a newspaper interview on 30 May this year.

In doing so, he not only proved the old adage that ‘To err is human, but to really foul things up requires Management’, but he also singlehandedly alienated half of his staff, and pretty much the whole historical profession.

Johnston, it must be remembered, was an oncologist before going into university leadership, so he’s one of the Good Guys. He deserves our respect.

But this doesn’t stop this being stupid, philistine, nonsense. A university VC who doesn’t understand what the humanities do would be…

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2 thoughts on “Why Society Needs Historians

  1. A challenging statement that could be interpreted as ‘society does not need a specific subject matter expertise, but soft and socially skilled people’. Which I am not sure the task of history is, indeed. A good post.

    Posted by Atanas Shinikov | June 7, 2016, 13:30
    • Yes, I see your point. My personal feeling is that when pressed to the wall to prove that we are relevant, we haven’t come up with a more elegant solution than the transferable skills we could teach. Still, I thought this was one of the best attempts I have encountered so far. As you can imagine, I am trying to work out an answer of my own… I am not ready yet.

      Posted by Divna Manolova | June 9, 2016, 23:44

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