Southern Utah University held its annual faculty distinguished lecturer APEX event with Dr. Kristopher Phillips as its celebrated speaker on Jan. 28, who lectured on the value of humanities in higher education.
Phillips is an associate professor of philosophy who earned his Ph.D. in philosophy from the University of Iowa in 2014.
During the event, Phillips lectured on how to draw knowledge from the Enlightenment era in its advancements in science and the humanities. He discussed using this knowledge to reflect on how modern institutions of higher education can improve its emphasis on the humanities, rather than the sciences, to achieve a more just life.
Phillips argued that education in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics fields provide people with a way of achieving financial stability within the job market. Anyone who has domain-specific knowledge in the STEM fields has an advantage in getting a secure job because these professions are highly skilled and specialized.
Universities see a surge in students wanting to pursue a STEM degree, since STEM degrees directly correlate with financial stability, when society experiences periods of economic depression, such as the 2008 financial crisis.
According to Phillips, it is important that colleges and universities promote learning in the humanities while continuing advancement in the STEM fields.
The humanities, such as his professional field of philosophy, give students the ability to improve their knowledge on how humanity pursues reason.
Reason, in a philosophical sense, “is the power by which humans understand the world around them and improve their own condition through knowledge, freedom, and happiness,” Phillips shared with the audience. If there is only pursuit of knowledge in the STEM fields, people will start to lose sense about the values and morals we have in current society.
Phillips argued that if people pursue a higher education within the humanities, students and faculty will be better equipped to discover the value of living rather than pursuing science for the sake of science.
“The purpose of a university education is not limited to or exhausted by professional training,” Phillips said.
Phillips concluded with the point that the inclusion and expansion of the humanities or the arts in higher education will enhance a well-rounded education for students. It will also better equip professionals in society to pursue a more moral and ethical life.
SUU’s APEX events are held every Thursday from 11:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m., followed by a Radio Hour Show from 3-4 p.m.
A schedule for the rest of the 2021 season can be found on the APEX page on SUU’s website.
Story by Danielle Meuret
Photo courtesy of Phillips’ SUU Faculty Expert Profile