What, how, why: This is the time for science and the time for humanities, together they complete us


Soft skills are hard. And these are not what STEM majors are generally hired for. Take the example of Uber: When it comes to dealing with unhappy riders and drivers it is psychology graduates who do the job best. Actually the more pervasive technology becomes the more tech companies are feeling the need for the social sciences and humanities (SSH). This is about communication skills plus the ability to understand how individuals and societies actually use technology. STEM sure fuels innovation but its adoption is more the domain of SSH. Cognitive diversity of this sort is key to the ideal talent pool.

The Covid-19 outbreak has of course put STEM front and centre. What is the virus, how it has spread and how it can be checkmated, science is looking to provide these answers. But eventually facts count for as much as people understand them. The choice of strategies used to educate the public becomes paramount as well. Beyond this, consider why the US emergency relief package has set aside big millions for arts and culture too. Because as we all navigate a strange present and a worrisome future, it is arts and culture that will help save our sanity.

The shows we are binge watching, the virtual museum tours, the music, the poetry … such are the safe spaces and light of our times. In weeks of isolation these are also the diving boards for thinking about the society we are and want to be. To sum up, science rocks, humanities are super, the arts elevate life. Which one should you choose for a career? Well, you are the expert on you. Let passion and aptitude be the guiding lights. Of course in this fast changing world every career may come down to knowing how to learn, unlearn, and relearn.

This piece appeared as an editorial opinion in the print edition of The Times of India.


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