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February 1, 2020

Former Geoffrion Fellow Discusses the Value of the Humanities

Sidne Lyon '21

Jacob Bruggeman ‘19, former Geoffrion Family Fellow, shared how a humanities education helps students succeed during and after college on the Miami University-produced podcast, Major Insight. In “Find Your Purpose and Place in the Humanities,” Bruggeman argues that a humanities education is actually a “practical investment” as it teaches students “to be good people as well as employable people.” In addition to helping students understand and engage with the world around them by examining the past, studying the humanities sets them up for success in the workplace.

A humanities degree helps students to think critically, ask important questions, interpret, and develop more flexible approaches to change, which Bruggeman argues is invaluable. He explains, “[the humanities] accustom you to deal with challenges, to deal with ever changing circumstances. Essays are on deadlines, and the deadlines force us to interpret and coalesce all this information to draw threads through these sources. What does that teach us essay by essay? It teaches how to deal with being uncomfortable in situations in which we have doubts about things, and what a better way to prepare people for any situation in a private sector where things are changing day to day, (in which) market forces are shifting the landscape, so to speak.”

Bruggeman also explains that the humanities help students answer important questions about life as they start developing their worldviews. He says, “At the very least, the humanities point us towards answers that have been given to those questions before. Studying the humanities can help us discover the stories that sustain and help explain us to ourselves. There's a real sense in which revisiting the past, revisiting great literature, helps us to move through and soldier through what are otherwise sometimes tough times.”

A dedicated champion of the humanities, Bruggeman graduated from Miami with a B.A. and M.A in history and political science,  then went on to complete an M.Phil. in economic and social history at Cambridge University. He is currently a doctoral student at Johns Hopkins University, specializing in nineteenth and early twentieth century American history. Bruggeman is also the editor of the Cleveland Review of Books and has written for popular audiences in publications including the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, Washington Times, Detroit News, and the Cincinnati Enquirer

Major Insight is a Miami University podcast that showcases the research of successful alumni and is currently hosted by undergraduate student, Peter Everett. Visit Major Insight’s website to listen to their two part interview with Bruggeman on the humanities.

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