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Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Editorial: In celebration of things worth learning

Amongst continued (and endless) debates about the financial value of an education and which departments deserve public funding, it is important to take a step back and give thanks and praise to the wonderful world of the humanities.

After all, what good is molecular biology, chemistry or physics if not to further and improve our existence as humans?

We saw such appreciation of haiku in The Aggie on Tuesday, an appreciation we would like to see more generously distributed throughout the minds and hearts of the people. (You people!)

Perhaps in an effort to demonstrate such appreciation, this editorial should have been written as a sonnet or a limerick, but this is a newspaper and we don’t have time for rhymes.

We do, however, have time to sincerely ask ourselves whether extending our lifespan through medicine is really that important in a world without art to visit for years to come. Is going to space worth anything if we aren’t moved by the poetic beauty of the infinite and unknowable? Is computer technology going to be used if we’re not instagramming photos?

Last summer brought a slew of Republican declarations that they would cut funding to cultural staples like PBS, adding on to the lifetime of endless articles on Yahoo! about useless majors. Hardly cultural icons, these media attacks are markers of mainstream and widely accepted beliefs about what constitutes an acceptable use of your brain.

In 2010, The Chronicle of Higher Education published a column by Massachusetts English professor James Mulholland, entitled “Time to stop mourning the humanities.” Instead of fueling the proverbial fire, the author endorsed a celebration.

“I propose that we stop talking about the ‘crisis,’ even stop using the word,” Mulholland wrote. “I suggest that we change our vocabulary and attitude, and begin to offer a cogent reassessment of what the humanities do and why they deserve to be maintained and expanded within the university. I want to link how we talk about the crisis with how we respond to it.”

So, here is to the humanities — the field that has inspired nearly every past high schooler that became an Aggie reporter; the field that created that weird University of California logo redesign and enabled the revolution that followed; the field that has very likely prevented society from making grave scientific mistakes that lead to robot revolutions and disembodied souls.

And, also, here’s to viticulture and enology. It may be a science, but what would the humanities be without it?

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