Prospective students in
the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences regularly ask: "Would you
recommend a BA degree as a career choice?" and then the follow-up
question comes almost immediately: "Is a BA a good investment?"
While we will concede that few Bachelor of Arts (BA)
courses or BA programmes prepare students directly for a profession in
the same way as, for instance, accounting trains accountants, we can say
with conviction that the modern knowledge economy in which our students
compete also does not expect this sort of education of BA students. We
know that the contemporary globalising world requires more than mere
technological progress. Human behaviour, attitudes and values must
change if the world is to continue to exist and to manage the challenges
of our times creatively. Our emphasis therefore falls precisely on this
Our BA programmes are built on pillars of future knowledge including, among others, the following:
- that the world
is changing at an incredible pace - computer capacity almost doubles
every two years and knowledge increases just as quickly;
- that a
whole new "knowledge economy" is developing and that these developments
mean that a young worker might have to change professions up to seven
times in a lifetime and perhaps even retire in a profession that does
not even yet exist;
- that there is already a great demand for "knowledge workers" while there are fewer ordinary office workers and labourers;
- and that such a fast pace of change must be built on basic values.
Our main aim is
therefore to offer students training in the humanities that prepares
them for making a contribution in this new world. Research shows that
the best approach is to develop both general and specific skills. The
variety of departments and programmes in the Faculty is geared towards helping students along this path.
Some of the general skills that we teach to our students and that make them highly sought after include:
These kinds of skills are important when it comes to
working in a professional environment. There is thus a link to what the
well-known psychologist Piaget said about education:
- critical and creative thinking;
- problem-solving, language and communication skills;
- an understanding of team work;
- an understanding of South African and global social realities;
- and leadership development.
"The principal goal of education is to create
people who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what
other generations have done - people who create, invent and discover.
The second goal of education is to form minds that can be critical, can
verify, and not accept everything offered."
Our Faculty is the starting point for any student who strives to reach these ideals echoed by Piaget.
We also seek to establish and strengthen the importance
of intrinsic values such as faith in one's family, friends and
colleagues; a tolerance for other cultures and points of view; and the
importance of participating in networks and organisations. The Faculty
focuses on these values in order to combat one of the greatest
socio-economic challenges in South Africa, which is our low level of
We are convinced that knowledge of the social sciences,
languages and arts offers an indispensable key to building a developed
and just society in South Africa and Africa. Our training produces
students who can "think independently, ask the right questions so that
they can analyse, weigh up ideas, come to logical conclusions and place
solid arguments on the table".
Students who join us become knowledge partners in a
vigorous Faculty focused on questions that are relevant to an
ever-changing South Africa and the world of the 21st century.