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The world needs graduates from humanities

- By Wits University

Humanities graduates stand a good chance in securing employment as graduates in the science and engineering disciplines.

The high unemployment rate has led many to speculate that the majority of unemployed graduates are those who have a qualification in social sciences or humanities. However, Professor Norman Duncan, says there is no evidence to support this belief and the narrow debates about the value of humanities.  

In fact, Duncan says the discipline is experiencing an increase in valorisation and this is attributed to the recognition that ‘humanities are vital to contemporary society particularly as far as solving the problems in the world created by, amongst others, the greed of the powerful” and a range of systemic factors.

Duncan was a guest speaker at the Faculty of Humanities’ graduation ceremony held on Monday afternoon. His words offered comfort and bolstered the hopes of the many graduates who are entering the employment market at a time when unemployment is highest amongst youth.  

Click to read his speech.

Professor Norman Duncan serves as the Dean of Humanities at the University of Pretoria, and is the former head of the School of Human and Community Development at Wits.

He holds a professorship in psychology and specialises in community and social psychology. He obtained his doctoral qualification from the University of the Western Cape and his masters from the Université Paul Valérie in France, where he also served as a lecturer and visiting professor. He has worked at the University of South Africa, the University of Venda and other higher education institutions.

Professor Duncan’s research and publications are primarily in the fields of racism and community psychology. He has co-edited a range of volumes, including Race, Racism, Knowledge Production and Psychology in South Africa and Developmental Psychology.

Professor Duncan currently serves as one of the lead researchers on the Apartheid Archives Research Project, hosted at Wits. This is a memory project that seeks to record stories of the everyday experiences of racism from a broad cross-section of South Africans. It is a cross-disciplinary, cross-national study of the enduring effects of apartheid-era racism on the lives of people. 

In addition, he serves as the Co-Chair of the Anti-Racism Network in Higher Education and is the past President of the Psychological Society of South Africa.