Monthly Archives: August 2016

Trick to through your education for success

Let’s face it: humanities degrees get a bad rap. In fact, the mere mention of the word “humanities” — defined by Stanford University as “the study of how people process and document the human experience” — brings to mind another four-syllabic word for many people: “unemployment.” But do these stereotypes hold up in the real world? In short: No. Read on to learn four reasons why a humanities degree may be the right choice for you.

1. Develop Creative and Critical Thinking Skills

Creativity leads to ideas and innovation. Critical thinking fosters execution and implementation. While both play invaluable roles in moving the world forward, their fusion achieves true synergy. Enter the humanities-based education.

Think about it. Our complex world requires people with the ability to think logically and objectively about subjective information in order to derive new levels of understanding. But what good is understanding without the ability to also think creatively toward solutions for the ongoing challenges we face as a society?  Even in matters of science, scholars are increasingly pointing to the importance of the study of human behavior in answering the toughest questions.

The takeaway? Within the context of humanities studies, critical thinking and creativity are two sides to a priceless coin.

  2. A Fulfilling Career And a Not-So-Shabby Paycheck?

Sure you could choose a career entirely because the money’s good, but where’s the personal fulfillment in that? A degree in the humanities, meanwhile, offers entry into a number of careers where people make a difference every single day. From teachers, artists and counselors to linguists, writers, and marketers, humanities majors and minors can be found in all walks of life. Why? Because the skills and knowledge acquired in humanities study surpass the barriers of discipline and can be applied to nearly any career or context.

Now consider that a whopping two-thirds of humanities majors go on to work in the private sector, and the majority of CEOs studied in the humanities. These figures are likely to grow when you factor in the rise of multidisciplinary studies between humanities studies and more traditionally lucrative fields, such as medicine, business, and law. Not to mention employment rates for humanities majors — many in some of the economy’s most quickly growing fields — comparable to employment rate for grads with non-humanities degrees.

And what if we told you that humanities salaries are actually higher than you think they are? That’s precisely what the latest report from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences suggests. Released earlier this month, the study rebuts common misconceptions about humanities salaries to reveal that humanities majors earn more on average than the average American worker. While there’s a slight lag behind those at similar degree levels, the difference is minor and narrows with age.

And then there’s that whole personal satisfaction thing that goes along with choosing a career of great societal consequence. Ultimately, salary is only part of the comprehensive “compensation” earned by people with humanities degrees.

  3. Outthink the Machines

Machines may be pushing the frontiers of science, but they’ll never replace free thought, nor the need for human interaction. Despite scientific advancements and the juggernaut of modern technology, we still live in a service economy in which the majority of the world’s jobs still require a human element. Ultimately, while coders and number crunchers may face a threat from machines in the future, plenty of jobs will remain for people skilled at doing things machines simply cannot do.

  4. Make More of Your Major

Stevens Institute of Technology instructor John Horgan writes that in our science-dominated, certainty-rooted world, humanities leave room for an oft-undervalued commodity: uncertainty, and the truth it aims to discover. His assertion? “It is precisely because science is so powerful that we need the humanities now more than ever.” In other words, while science and technology may be in a state of flux, the humanities transcends these changes to remain checkpoint and lodestar.

Still not convinced? Well, what if we told you that a minor in the humanities offers all of these benefits — perhaps even more when studied alongside an alternate field? When merged with another course of study, a humanities minor has the power to amplify the value of your degree.

There are many schools and universities across the globe offering programs in the Humanities: from France to the USA, Germany to the UK, and many more. Faculties, like the Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Strathclyde, are renowned for their high quality programs across a wide spectrum of disciplines as well as for their professional approach of the Humanities.

Is a Small City School Good For You

When most students think about studying and traveling abroad, they think in terms of big cities – New York, Paris, Rome, Shanghai, Tokyo, Sydney, and many more. This isn’t surprising – most big or capital cities serve as icons for countries and cultures, and there are many reasons to visit big cities. But anyone who has spent time abroad will likely tell you that it isn’t until you get outside the big cities that you get a real sense of a place and culture. And isn’t that what studying abroad is all about? So, if whether you’re planning a semester, a year, or a full degree abroad, here are five good reasons to consider a small-town school for your studies.

  1. You’ll spend less money

Let’s face it: university is expensive and studying abroad isn’t cheap. Even if you choose a tuition-exchange program or earn a scholarship, you’ll still need to live, eat, and explore during your time abroad. It may be tempting to choose a big city, but the reality is that housing in big cities is expensive and hard to find. In a small city, you’ll be more likely to find affordable, attractive, and central housing, which means you’ll have more time and money to enjoy what the city has to offer, or to travel to the bigger cities you want to visit. Here are a few other ways small cities can help you save money:

·  Small cities with airports are often hubs for low-flight airlines

·  Small cities often rely on their student populations, so there are loads of opportunities, deals, and events aimed at students

·   Big cities are expensive – whether you’re paying for rent, a cup of coffee, or a cinema ticket, expect a higher price in a big city

2. You can be close to nature

Sometimes you need to get away from it all, and while parks and green spaces are nice, they can’t replace real, untouched nature. Small cities are often close to forests, beaches, farmland, or mountains and getting out of the city for a hike or a day at the beach should be relatively easy. Find out where the locals go, or join an outdoor-activity club.

3. You can get in touch with locals

You might think that you’ll experience a country by living in its capital, but the fact is that apart from their landmarks, big cities can be generically international. If you truly want to experience a country’s culture, or if your goal is to learn a foreign language, living outside a major city is a better option. In a small city or town, you’ll have more opportunities to interact (and speak) with locals. Small towns are more likely to represent the normal lifestyle of a country, and you’ll probably have a chance to do things that only locals would do – visit a local artist’s gallery, taste a regional delicacy, try folk dancing…the possibilities are endless.

4. A small city doesn’t mean a boring city

In fact, it’s big cities that can often feel mundane. Big cities may offer variety, but it’s not all unique and the logistics of a big city can make it nearly impossible to do everything…or anything. Lots of students in big cities report that, after the initial excitement, they focus their activities in their neighborhood and only explore the rest of the city when friends or family come to visit. Small cities are normally easy to navigate and have shops, museums, entertainment, and restaurants in proximity to each other. Plus, since you’re able to afford more central accommodations in small cities, you’re more likely to be close to all the excitement.

For You That Plan Study in France

No one can deny the many inimitable charms of Paris. It’s not surprising that the City of Lights tops so many lists of France’s best cities for international students. But the allures of this sublime city are no reason to overlook France’s many amazing offerings. Let’s count down several of France’s other extraordinary destinations for international students.

  1. Toulouse

With a reasonable cost of living, exceptional geographic location with easy access to both the ocean and the mountains; and multiple top-ranked universities, it’s no surprise that France’s fourth biggest city — dubbed the “Pink City” for its brick-clay colors — is attractive to so many international students.

An added bonus for history buffs?  Toulouse is home to one of the world’s oldest university systems, dating all the way back to the 13th century. And while all of Toulouse’s academic offerings are strong, aerospace enthusiasts have particular incentive to visit: it considered by many to be the epicenter of the European aerospace industry. Indeed, you will find schools such as the National School for Civil Aviation, ENAC, as weel as Polytechnique, INP Toulouse.

  2. Grenoble

A frequent contender alongside Toulouse as a top international French study destination, Grenoble’s scenery offers enough incentive on is own. Nestled at the base of the French Alps, this alpine city is extraordinarily beautiful with sweeping views of the surrounding mountains, and yet with easy access to other premiere destinations, including Paris, Italy and Switzerland. Because of its location, Grenoble also draws a large number of international faculty and staff — making for a particularly diverse academic community.

Widely considered a terrific place to learn French, Grenoble is also known for it welcoming people, bustling city center, and fine outdoor activities. (Skiers, hikers and bikers will all find plenty to do here.)

3. Lille

While lacking the same buzz as French cities like Paris, Toulouse and Grenoble, Lille was recently declared to be “France’s most underrated city.” Located in France’s northern region, Lille has also earned the distinction of being home to the country’s most cheerful people. That might have something to do its unbeatable location, which grants residents access to Brussels in 35 minutes, Paris in an hour, and London in under an hour and a half.

Factor in Lille’s vibrant culture known for its extraordinary architecture and the world-famous Palais des Beaux-Arts museum, and it’s no surprise that more international students are discovering this oft-overlooked destination.

4. Bordeaux

Located in France’s stunning Aquitaine region, Bordeaux — a UNESCO world heritage site — has been described as “an outstanding urban and architectural ensemble.”  And while wine may be the first thing that comes to mind when you think of this well-known region, the local libations are just one thing on a very long list of reasons to study in Bordeaux. A strong public transportation system, status as a player on the European technology scene, close proximity to sunny beaches, and popular football and rugby teams are just a few more of Bordeaux’s appeals.

And then there’s Bordeaux’s academic offerings. A commitment to cutting-edge research, multidisciplinary study programs, and exceptional faculty and staff combine to make Bordeaux a prestigious higher education destination. Bordeaux’s commitment to welcoming foreign students is demonstrated by its breadth and depth of international study programs as well as more than 250 partnerships with universities across the globe.

5. Clermont-Ferrand

While Clermont-Ferrand may look small at first glance, its first impression belies its true status as a bustling international city. Located in the center of France between a chain of extinct volcanos (the “Chaîne des Puys”),  Clermont-Ferrand boasts a strong reputation as a university town thanks to not one, not two but three prestigious universities.

Looking for a young, dynamic, student-friendly town? You’ll find it in Clermont-Ferrand, where a full third of the population is under the age of 20. From hiking to nightlight to France’s second-largest film festival, there’s an extraordinary amount to see and do here. And did we mention the region’s famous cheese?

The Role of Students That You Need To Know

Earlier this fall, Sweden’s Umeå University announced a scientific breakthrough related to the potential of ionic liquids as solvents. Published in the journal ChemSusChem, these findings are of interest for several reasons. Of course, there’s the fact that this advancement yields new and valuable insights into “enzymatic refinement of cellulose to precious molecules and industrial products.” This has numerous applications, including in the production of ethanol as fuel, which has the potential to significantly reduce oil dependence and greenhouse gas emissions.

But equally as interesting is the pivotal role students played in Umeå’s achievement, in addition to as as part of the teams that drive discovery in environmental research at universities around the world. Whether you’re just beginning to develop your knowledge of the changing environment and steps which can be taken to help safeguard it as a bachelor’s degree student or you’re pursuing advanced studies and research as a master’s degree or doctoral student, there are many paths to making a difference as an environmental researcher.

The Backstory

Our future well-being as people on this planet depends critically on the well-being of the natural systems around us. And while policy development and management are certainly important factors in protecting clean air, water, and other natural resources, another factor also comes into play: scientific knowledge.

With climate change and global sustainability challenges looming ahead, environmental research innovation will play a critical role in helping the world’s biological systems, communities and industries adapt, prevent further loss, and survive in a way beneficial to human life.

As with the important work coming out of Umeå, universities in all corners of the planet are leading the charge when it comes to addressing the world’s most topical environmental issues. Scientists and researchers not only play a critical role in identifying the concerns which face society both now and in the future, but also in developing interventions to mitigate human impacts.

The Field of Environmental Research

With more challenges facing the world than ever before, the need for solutions is increasingly paramount. The task is anything but simple: not only are current consequences difficult to reverse, but doing so also involves acknowledging and integrating a broad range of social, economic and political contexts.

Accordingly, degrees in environmental research cover equally dynamic topic, including the geological, biological and chemical processes which impact the environment, as well as how they come into play in the world around us (climate change, pollution control, population dynamics, ecosystems and biodiversity, etc.). Students and researchers also have plenty of opportunities to practice — both inside the lab and out in the field.

Why Environmental Research May Be Right For You

Image courtesy of Umeå Univeristy

All academic degrees offer the opportunity to expand your knowledge and make a difference. However, there’s arguably no path more meaningful at this current juncture in human history than environmental studies.

While the challenges are profound, so are the opportunities: environmental research advancements are happening every day at lightning speed. As a student and researcher in this field, you’ll have plenty of space to innovate — in academia or in another environment-related sector. Because while environmental research is comparatively new as a dedicated field of study, it is at the top of the list when it comes to disciplines with relevant and topical real-world applications. And as the recent news from Sweden demonstrates, you don’t have to wait to graduate to start making a difference. Research opportunities exist for students at all levels which allow them to get their hands dirty while getting the planet clean.

Image courtesy of Umeå Tomoya Suzuki

Not to mention that these issues aren’t going away anytime soon. The takeaway for today’s career-minded students? There are plenty of jobs to be found. In fact, the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Outlook Handbook reveals that jobs for environmental scientists and specialists have a projected growth rate of 15 percent for the years between 2012 and 2022 — easily outpacing the average for all professions.

One final morsel of food for thought? American Professor of Environmental Science and Policy Rob Sanford once pointed out that, “From an environmental standpoint, the planet doesn’t care if humans are here or not.”  In other words, while the concept of “saving the planet” may be somewhat misguided when viewed through this lens, there’s another very real imperative for today’s environmental researchers: to make our lives more sustainable not just as an overarching concept, but also in terms of our own personal ideals, priorities, and how we choose to live our lives.