As Dean of the College of Humanities and Sciences at University of Phoenix, I’m proud to help students become part of a tradition that encourages independent and critical thinking, motivates creativity and innovation, develops problem-solving skills, empowers people to entertain change, and promotes an allegiance to lifelong learning — all valuable skills that can be applied to any career.
The College of Humanities and Sciences is home to courses in biology, communication, English, environmental and natural sciences, history, languages, literature, mathematics, philosophy, politics, religion and the arts. These subjects challenge students to respect the diversity of thought around the globe, discern facts from biased opinions and recognize the relevance of the past for gaining insight into the future.
Through the humanities, we have a greater understanding of the human experience on its highest cognitive, spiritual and social levels. Students in the humanities learn to think critically, effectively express themselves, understand the complexities of diverse cultural identities, appreciate the power of words, images and ideas, and interpret the human experience.
Studying the sciences gives students insight into the fundamental processes of nature and provides the basic knowledge needed to understand modern scientific accomplishments.
Steve Jobs recognized the importance of humanities and sciences. The former Apple chief — who was greatly influenced by a typography class in his design of the first Macintosh — understood that to arrive at a great idea, you have to have a convergence of perspectives.
Studying the humanities and sciences helps us see our world in a new light, just as doing so helped Jobs make technology “cool” and become a cultural icon in the process.
Part of my studies in the humanities gave me the good fortune of having “lived” them. For nearly a decade, I lived in Europe, Asia and Africa, experiencing several types of cultures, societies, religions, economies and political systems. I witnessed the best in people (Mother Teresa and her colleagues in India) and the worst (warlords and refugee “death camps” in Ethiopia, Sudan and Somalia). I visited countless places of worship, observed how culture influences communication, became acquainted with the arts (museums, theater, dance) and expanded the playlist on my iPod® device to include Gregorian chants along with Jimi Hendrix and The Doors.
Frankly, without the opportunity to “live the humanities,” I simply would not be who I am today.
With more than 25 years of experience in higher education, I consider it my mission to help students understand who they are. To open their eyes to the power of education and the paths it can open. And as dean, I get to go along for the ride. How “cool” is that?
— Robert Ridel, PhD