Hoover fellows discuss why the humanities are important for our national security

Wednesday, September 12, 2012
Humanities education fosters creative thinking and teaches the undervalued skill
Image credit: 
Rod Searcey
Humanities education fosters creative thinking and teaches the undervalued skill
Image credit: 
Rod Searcey
Hoover senior fellows, from left to right: Rice, Perry, and Berman

Hoover senior fellows Condoleezza Rice, William Perry, and Russell Berman joined a panel of experts in foreign policy, national defense, international diplomacy, and foreign languages who came together at Stanford to offer insights into how the humanities and social sciences strengthen America's diplomatic, defense, and international policy endeavors. They were called together by a national commission charged by Congress to find ways in which the United States can maintain its national excellence in the humanities and social sciences.

The forum, entitled ”The Humanities and Social Sciences for International Relations, National Security and Global Competitiveness,” explored how the humanities and social science disciplines help America maintain its competitive edge in a global economy.

In his opening remarks, Stanford University president John L. Hennessy named a number of distinguished Stanford alumni who had been humanities majors, noting that a deep understanding of the humanities and sciences prepares students “not just for their first job but for a career of accomplishment.”

In explaining to her business and economics students why they need to study the humanities and social sciences, Rice said she emphasizes how those disciplines create students who are “rigorous problem-solvers in terms of understanding behavior,” which  is especially pertinent in the technology realm.

Rice also noted how a humanities education fosters creative thinking and teaches the undervalued skill of persuasive writing. A well-written two-page essay to the secretary of state or the president, she said, “can make the difference in decision making.”

Created by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences is gathering information on best practices, innovations, and ideas to strengthen and promote the humanities and social sciences in the United States.

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