What’s the Point of an Arts Degree?

Five years ago I was an uncertain fresher studying English and History at the University of Southampton. Now I’m halfway through a part-time MA in Cultural Management at King’s College. I’ve gone from the Brontës to business plans.

Would I make the same choices again?

Yes, absolutely. Arts education can be incredibly interesting and rewarding.

During the summer I asked a few friends and contacts to share their perspectives on the value of studying for an arts or humanities degree.

Here are four key benefits:

Building new connections

SOAS graduate Claire Amaladoss says: ‘Studying both a language (Swahili) and Development Studies gave me a rich understanding of the interactions of culture, history, politics and economics in societies in Europe and far beyond.’

‘The interdisciplinary nature of the courses helped me to make links across traditional boundaries – applying poetry and philosophy to public health policy, for example. Now as a policy maker in the civil service, I’ve no doubt my studies help me to “zoom out” and see the bigger picture and “zoom in” for the all important details.’

Growing creative confidence

Josie George, a Textile Design graduate from Central Saint Martins, notes: ‘As well as building practical skills and industry experience, the course helped me to develop my creative thinking and confidence.’

‘This led me to start AMMA Sri Lanka, a textiles workshop that employs vulnerable mothers in rural Sri Lanka. My degree helped broaden my mind as to how textiles can function cross-culturally and as a source of women’s empowerment.’

Read more about AMMA in my interview with Josie.

Developing a flair for arguing (productively)

Robbie Semple of the Worthwhile Graduate Programme emphasises: ‘Now more than ever, we need people who can handle ambiguity and (de)construct logical arguments. Arts degrees are as strong a training ground for these skills as any other discipline.’

‘Each year we place dozens of arts graduates who rise quickly to management positions in innovative social enterprises.’

Broadening perspectives

Neil Griffiths, Co-Founder and Director of Arts Emergency, stresses that ‘education is a significant factor in promoting genuine social justice and mobility. The arts and humanities provide an education that does not assume its students occupy a fixed place in society.’

‘They give us vital tools for evaluating the world around us and they create a window into the experiences of others. Fair access to arts and humanities education is a fundamental requirement for any society wishing to call itself truly democratic.’

What do you think? Let me know in a comment or tweet.

Thanks for reading!

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