In institutions of higher learning, the study of humanities is referred to as that branch of knowledge that equips students with general knowledge and intellectual skills to make them function in any field.
The skills set provided by the humanities are not occupational or professional oriented but are fundamental to them.
Humanities teach students to be creative thinkers; it offers reasoning ability, critical and compelling questioning skills.
It is noted, therefore, that the study of humanities underpins our competences to function as accountants, medical practitioners, journalists, bankers, administrators, engineers and fashion designers, to mention just a few.
It is therefore not surprising that in what is referred to as “the good old days” the study of humanities was a critical part of any discipline of study in institutions of higher learning.
This foundation produced enduring, versatile and rigorous workforce that were fit for all contexts. Ghanaian workers, for example, were widely acclaimed to have functioned and excelled beyond expectations wherever they found themselves.
Fast forward to what is known as contemporary times, the humanities in our institutions of higher learning is increasingly called upon to justify its place in a career focused, profession-oriented world where the value of knowledge as understanding how things work has lost its place to what works; placing more emphasis on knowledge as vocation as opposed to knowledge as inquiry.
Put differently, we go to school to make money as opposed to find out how the world works. Today, knowledge is commercial.
Hence, some of the challenges being faced by humanities scholarship in our institutions of higher learning. Scholars and students of humanities are increasingly called upon to justify their commercial relevance. Notwithstanding the challenges, there is a welcoming re-cognition of humanities’ importance in the academy.
This reawakening is as a result of globalisation, a concept so ubiquitous in the 21st century, throwing everyone and everything into a bowl of relentless competition we do not have control over.
This means, not only must we be intra-culturally competent but inter and supra-culturally competent. In this regard, how do we as academics ensure that the study of humanities is fit for the increasingly commercialised world, and at the same time keeps to its higher calling of inquiry necessary to facilitate new knowledge.
This will be the mandate of the academics, practitioners and students who will assemble for the 4th College of Humanities International Conference at the University of Ghana from 1-2 November, 2018.
The Conference which forms part of the University’s 70th anniversary celebrations has the theme ‘Prospects and Challenges of Humanities Research in the 21st Century’.
Participants are expected to have engaging discussions on topics ranging from economic growth, migration and transcultural exchanges, performance, creativity and culture, and the psychology of health.
We look forward to participation from academics, students, journalists and the general public.
Source: Kobby Mensah PhD