THE ROLE OF THE HUMANITIES AND SOCIAL SCIENCES IN HIGHER EDUCATION: INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE
The article states that higher education plays an important role in educating specialists for the society that are constantly evolving. Along with the science, the education system is the foundation for social progress, human development, primarily to educate specialists for the future.
According to the new educational paradigm a specialist should be able bring up and solve fundamentally new problems constantly gaining his professional knowledge and improving skills as the basis for the formation of social experience. We know that higher education plays a particularly important role in training of these professionals.
The main objective of this article is to expand on a topic of the role of the Humanities and Social Sciences in the universities of developed countries and their impact on overcoming mental and psychological abnormalities and deviations that are disturbing public life, exacerbate conflict and reduce the likelihood that billions of earthlings are moving to sustainable development.
Examples of "economic and social impulses" during recent decades (Finland, Ireland, South Korea, Singapore, China) demonstrate that properly organized general and long-term education for all citizenry become a strategic resource to improve welfare, protect and provide national interests, strengthen competitiveness and prestige within the international scene. On the other hand, one cannot deny the fact that the unprecedentedly rapid quantitative expansion of higher education establishments, first in developed countries and later in others, was not an effective mean of eliminating environmental, as well as a large number of socio-economic problems, the cultural and ideological confrontations and rivalry.
It is indicated that foreign countries have their major problems in the area of education for young people, successful socialization while obtaining profession during long training systems in secondary, higher and post-qualifying education. It is proved that it creates an atmosphere of increased interest concerning the choice of subjects for high school curriculum and shaping their content in order to achieve the desired and effective ability, capable to solve problems while educating new generations. The importance of Humanities and Social Sciences (SSH) is confirmed by numerous conferences and meetings. For example, in Vilnius conference "Horizons of social sciences and humanities" (September 23-24th 2013) has taken place. It was emphasized that the Social Sciences and Humanities allow us to perceive better ourselves and the surrounding environment as well as to understand our expectations, ideas and our own place in the world. The Social Sciences and Humanities help to find the answers for existential questions, issues of general welfare, global stability and peace.
These sciences bring knowledge and experience to resolve conflicts and to achieve peace through negotiations, collaborative work and communication – not by force or arms. In particular, it is beyond our competence to solve the essential problems of stability, welfare and peace. Studies in the Social Sciences and Humanities offer people and society a humanistic and holistic approach to their surroundings, the basic principles of communication and a broad cultural outlook. It is the human thinking and behavior – not machines, technology or arms – that predetermine our future. The Social Sciences and Humanities have a mission to develop these competences and social innovations.
“Europe is still facing many long term and complex challenges. It takes profound knowledge and insight to really understand these challenges and how they affect us, and to guide us to solutions. That is why the Social Sciences and Humanities are more essential than ever and why we, as policymakers, are keen to have their contribution. We need them to understand ourselves, our society and the challenges we face. We need them to guide politicians and policy makers and to inform public opinion. Research and technology provide many answers to the challenges we face, but technological fixes alone aren’t enough to solve our major, complex problems. A knowledge society needs to know itself, and the Social Sciences and Humanities are the keys to this.”
Horizon 2020, the largest multi-annual research framework program in the history of the European Union, began in 2014 and lasts for seven years. With this ambitious program, the European Commission attempts to solve several policy issues at once: politically, it wants to foster the path towards a more innovative Europe, which is clearly seen as a way out of the current crisis. Administratively, it wants to tackle previous criticism about the conduct of research projects by introducing measures of “simplification”. Strategically, it wants to achieve better results of the challenges that Europe is facing by giving direction and thus by influencing the way the research is organized.
The Vilnius conference aimed to bring together representatives of the Social Sciences and Humanities from all around Europe to improve the ways in which Human and Social Sciences may impact the new European research framework program, Horizon 2020.
Block of SSH in universities of the United States, Britain and France is analyzed. This experience demonstrates that optimizing the Social Sciences and Humanities in the European and American higher education exists to up-to-date their content on the basis of modern science; introduce new disciplines oriented to improve personal qualities; use innovative technologies, innovative methods and forms of education; introduce colloquial disciplines – public speaking, discussion in small groups, with the aim to develop critical analysis.
It should be emphasized that education should teach everyone the way to act, how to co-exist in the information society and globalized XXI century. It must form a harmonious thinking, which would be based on internal freedom of the individual and its social responsibility along with the perception of respect for the views of other people. These personality characteristics today are included among the fundamental values of human civilization, declared in the UNO documents and UNESCO.
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