As Dean of the College of Humanities 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, empowers people to entertain change, and promotes an allegiance to lifelong learning — all valuable skills that can be applied to any career.
Home to University 101, as well as history, communication, critical thinking, philosophy and ethics courses, the College of Humanities challenges students to respect the diversity of thought around the globe, discern fact from biased opinions, and recognize the relevance of the past for gaining insight into the future.
Steve Jobs understood this. 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 had to have a convergence of perspectives.
"It’s in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough — it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our heart sing ...” — Steve Jobs
Studying the humanities 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 Theresa and her colleagues in India), and the worst (war lords 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 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, it’s 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, Ph.D.