A new program at the DeGroote School of Business at McMaster University combines philosophy and other humanities disciplines with a business education. “Integrated Business and Humanities” is a business major that requires its students to philosophy, language, culture, and other humanities courses.
We did the research about what employers are looking for and we kept coming back to the same things: critical thinking, communication, cultural perspective… But the School of Business couldn’t teach these skills. We didn’t have the in-house expertise to teach philosophy and history and English.
The program is also seen as a way of shoring up enrollment in humanities classrooms, which have been declining.
The article’s author, Jon Marcus, writes:
Employers highly value what humanities majors learn in college, focus groups and surveys show. More than nine out of 10 say a job candidate’s capacity for thinking and communicating clearly and solving complex problems is more important than his or her major, according to an AAC&U poll. More than three-quarters favor applicants who understand other cultures.
As the humanities decline, business has become the largest undergraduate major. But a Carnegie Foundation report found that undergraduate business education is narrow and doesn’t challenge students to think creatively or ask important questions.
The article suggests that prospective students show plenty of interest in the humanities, but it is often their parents who put the kibosh on majoring in them, concerned—rightly or wrongly—about future job opportunities and earnings. Anna Moro, a linguistics professor and associate dean of humanities at McMaster, says:
It was the parents who came to the recruitment events who were saying, ‘We’re going to check out nursing or engineering.’… I want students to calm their parents’ fears and say, ‘I’ll take philosophy, but I’ll also take business.’