Some Reflections on the Future of Social Sciences and Humanities

Cengiz Sisman, Ph.D. Director of the History Program, Professor of History, /University of Houston-Clear Lake

The subject matters of humanities and social sciences are timeless, and yet, as academic disciplines they have been in a deep crisis in last few decades. They are as we know it are going through a radical transformation because of the disrupting challenges brought about by modern technologies and other administrative, political, social and economic decision makings. One of the pressing issues, especially in higher education institutions, is to make these disciplines relevant and attractive to our students and teachers as well as to our administrators and fund raisers, as they all tend to be allured by STEM sciences for practical reasons.  Less resources are allocated in these fields, and in turn, less talented people are attracted to these field, -a fact which cause to impoverishment of these fields in the long run. In order to exit from this vicious circle, we tirelessly, and yet apologetically, defend our ever-dwindling disciplines by making pragmatic and functionalist points such as “humanities and social science graduates can still be employed in professional, scientific, technical, and financial industries than STEM,” “a good number of world leaders, big company CEOs, and company owners are of humanities and social science origin” and the like. Although these points have some merits, we need to go beyond this instrumentalized explanations for the necessity of social science and humanities, and make a case for them as being the fundamental forms of thinking to balance the human existence. In simplest form, they are the study of the human condition and common humanity, and respond to our most fundamental questions about life, who we are what we do and how we will be doing. If we liken the STEM sciences to a leg, the other leg is social sciences and humanities. In order to walk to our freedom and happiness, as humans, we are in a need of two legs. Therefore, social sciences and humanities should be unapologetically integrated to school curriculums so that the new generations would have a chance to think critically about their future.