Why We Need HumanitiesX
To The Faculty Newsletter:
But the required foundation course in the humanities has had an enduring effect on my life. It gave me a love of learning, taught me about music, art, philosophy, and literature I could never have imagined, and far from being passive made me think and create work of my own. Even though the end degree made a huge difference to my career, learning does not always need to be career-focused or geared towards a credential.
As Professor Perry points out [MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XXV No. 1], MIT faculty do not have the time to grade essays from thousands of online students, but I am sure this a problem that MIT can solve (possibly by forming online student groups similar to writing or reading groups). It is possible to prepare a test that can be graded by computer as this was done as early as the 1970s.
The point for the humanities is not really the credential. No employer is going to hire you for your essay or grade on Jane Austen. But an employer might well be glad to see that an individual is well-rounded and brings a humanities' perspective to their job.
Professor Perry asks: "For whose benefit are we developing online modules in the Humanities and why?" I would answer that an MIT quality humanities course could change the lives of students globally as much as Circuits and Electronics. Creating a course that is culturally diverse, that would have meaning for MIT residential students as well as students around the world, is challenging. The OU course materials were expensive to create, but given the materials now available through the Internet, the cost might not be prohibitive. I hope that a humanities course can be considered and made a priority. I believe it would as Professor Perry states, educate "people to be informed citizens in a genuine democracy and for enriching their lives." Democracy is slowly trying to build across the globe and an MIT humanities course would, I believe, make a difference.