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What are Humanities subjects?

The Humanities comprise those subjects that investigate:

  • The human world
  • What it is to be human
  • How human beings relate to their environment

At Otago, Humanities subjects cover two main areas of learning: the arts, and the social sciences

The arts consist of subjects that explore:

  • Human culture, history, beliefs, and value systems
  • How human beings communicate with one another, express themselves, and represent their experience
  • The primary conditions of human existence

The social sciences consist of subjects that explore:

  • The analysis of human behaviour
  • The nature of and relation between social and environmental systems
  • The way that environmental, social, economic, and political processes shape our lives
  • The way human beings relate to the environment

At Otago the subjects that deal with these areas of learning are administered through many departments, several of which provide specialist professional training for lawyers, planners, ministers of religion, social workers and teachers.

The value of a Humanities education

The value of a Humanities degree is that it imparts essential knowledge and understanding about humans and the world we live in.

In the 21st Century the ways we behave and organise ourselves are undergoing huge changes. Advances in travel and communication have brought nations in closer contact with one another. A revolution in information technology and changing business practices have globalised the world economy.

We need graduates who can understand the nature of what is occurring, and can act effectively in the new environment.

A Humanities education develops the essential lifelong learning skills that employers seek such as critical thinking, communication skills, interpersonal and teamwork skills, and analytical and problem-solving skills.

Employers say that Humanities graduates are adaptable, flexible and creative - essential skills in an ever-changing world.

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