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Why social science is essential?

Date of Post:
November 12, 2018

It is a general belief among scientists that science deals with facts and the humanities, arts and social science deals with values and belong to the soft sciences. Many government policies focus on STEM subjects as being the means of having a worthwhile economy in the future. This is a shot sighted view, there should be no separation between hard and soft science, both are essential, they are inextricably linked. Leonardo de Vinci  considered painting to be more science than art,  and saw each discipline’s ultimate aim to allow interpretation of the world and an understanding of humankind.  Leonardo de Vinci is often considered as the first true scientist, yet he is remembered by most for his art work. We have seen in Module 1 how  an important element of culture is that it is learned and science is part of culture as is art.  To prise them apart is a mistake in search of technological utopia. We need to be able to interpret and understand the world before we can really contribute to it.

A child who is steered towards science and steered away from the humanities and social sciences  at an early age will find there are pieces missing and may lead to  a sense of apathy as they become cogs in a wheel of the economy alone. Without an integrated education the individual cannot become a whole person.

In the present time,  the rise of creative industries is becoming increasingly important  to  economic growth.

Robert Kennedy in a speech at the University of Kansas, March 18, 1968 stated it aptly:

“Even if we act to erase material poverty, there is another greater task, it is to confront the poverty of satisfaction - purpose and dignity - that afflicts us all. Too much and for too long, we seemed to have surrendered personal excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things,…but …Gross National Product ….does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education or the joy of their play.  It does not include the beauty of our poetry or the strength of our marriages, the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials.

It measures neither our wit nor our courage, neither our wisdom nor our learning, neither our compassion nor our devotion to our country, it measures everything in short, except that which makes life worthwhile…If this is true here at home, so it is true elsewhere in world. “

We need to be able to interpret the world before we can start to contribute to it. To possess a creative understanding — that is what makes a person whole. Without a grounding in the arts, humanities and social sciences  pieces of the puzzle will be missing.

What counts is not  just what we put into our heads at graduation but what we have put into our heart too.

A study of the world’s leaders has found that almost half have a social science degree.

The British Council, in partnership with Ipsos Public Affairs, conducted a study of the educational backgrounds of 1,700 people in 30 countries.

It found that 44 per cent had a social sciences degree, and 11 per cent a humanities degree. Those in government jobs were more likely to have studied social sciences, while those in non-profits favoured the humanities, the article states.

A summary of the research (pdf)