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Harvard professors and students gathered Thursday night in the Yenching Auditorium for the Humanities Concentration Panel, which was held to inform freshmen and sophomores about the academic and professional opportunities available in the humanities.
Despite a small audience of 14, student and faculty panelists spoke for more than an hour about concentration offerings in the humanities at Harvard, their own experiences in the related disciplines, and the opportunities that humanities students from Harvard have in the professional world.
Job availability was on the minds of several students in attendance. “Inevitably one of the concerns of concentrating in the humanities is then graduating with a degree in the humanities and then having to find a job afterwards,” said Josh E. Stallings ’17, who moderated the panel.
Jake Tilton ’19, a potential Music concentrator, expressed similar concerns. “As a field, I know that humanities doesn’t have the greatest opportunities for job offers,” he said, “so I’m curious to see what people can do with these degrees.”
The panelists addressed these concerns, stressing the desirability and practicality of the communication, analytical thinking, and writing skills developed through studying in the humanities. “You learn how to read, think, and be articulate in writing and speech,” panelist and Classics professor Kathleen M. Coleman said.
Panelists also encouraged students to reach out to professors and students involved in concentrations in the humanities and to pursue opportunities through the Office of Career Services and the Harvard Alumni Association.
In addition to Coleman, the panel included post-doctoral fellow and historian Justin C. Leroy, admissions officer Bryce J. Gilfillian ’12, and humanities concentrators Bridget R. Irvine ’16 and Erica X Eisen ’16, a former Crimson Arts chair.
Organized by the Harvard Undergraduate Humanities Initiative, a program created last year to encourage interest in the humanities, the event was received well by panelists and audience members.
“I’m always so happy to see students who are willing to take risks and explore areas that they’re interested in,” Gilfillian said.
Kathleen G. Barrow ’19 said that she was happy to learn of the variety of opportunities available to students interested in the humanities.“There are a lot of different directions that you can go with humanities concentrations...you’re not stuck in any particular field,” she said.
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