Social Sciences: The Engine for Change
In present times, as education systems around the world endeavor to promote the importance of STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) education, the social sciences are, more often than not, put on the backburner. Nevertheless, social sciences can be instrumental in producing critically thinking and globally connected people.
Defining Social Sciences
Social sciences can be defined as the scientific study of human society and social relationships. This encompasses everything from history and sociology to economics and political science. Among others, through social sciences, we study how democracies morph into dictatorships, research the causes of unemployment and delve into the psychology of criminals.
Social sciences and STEM very frequently complement each other. For example, medical researchers may have determined that a disease is caused by polluted water supplies. But to enable effective change in society, social scientists will look into which industries contributed to the polluted water, which communities are disproportionately affected by the disease and how to implement policies to prevent this from recurring.
Let’s take a closer look at how the different areas of social sciences are essential to both a student’s and society’s growth.
Economics and Finance
A surprising amount of people lack a rudimentary knowledge of economic systems. Occasionally, they even support financial policies that act against their interest. For example, most people assume that raising taxes is bad without understanding how taxes aid in funding better government services. Hence, knowledge of economics is indispensable for every single individual in society. It helps us gain more effective economic policies, manage our finances wisely, choose appropriate investments and even get a foothold in the business world.
Ethics and Citizenship
Social sciences also instill the importance of being a virtuous and well-informed citizen. Understanding the historical and sociological growth of a nation helps individuals value their liberties, rights and role in it more. Students learn how the various levels of government function and become familiar with their ability to shape their nation’s legal and political landscapes. In addition, subjects like philosophy provide an opportunity to explore ideas around morality and, just as importantly, encourages critical thinking. More than just imparting ‘moral values’, it invites students to interrogate their systems of belief and establish strong codes of ethics for themselves.
Diverse Perspectives and Social Awareness
There is a popular saying that “Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat it.” This is because history reveals the inner workings of society itself. It shows us what needs reforming, what has failed or what can succeed. It can, in fact, help us examine the future and give us insights into current issues. For example, we can learn how technological innovations influence the workforce by investigating the effects of the Industrial Revolution.
Those who study social sciences tend to understand the importance of a society of equality and diversity. They learn about and recognize the cultures in their community and the world. This is especially important in today’s interconnected international communities.
Holistic Education System
The American education system takes into consideration the value of studying social sciences. In fact, USA universities typically require their STEM students to take a number of social sciences courses as well.