Director's Message

A portrait of Eric W. Corty, director of the School of Humanities and Social Sciences at Penn State Behrend.

“Doers and Thinkers”

That’s the start of my elevator speech these days when someone asks me what my plans are for the School of Humanities and Social Sciences. I want our students to have two sets of skills when they graduate: the skills of a thinker and the skills of a doer.

Thinker skills are the ones gained in all of our majors—a broad and a deep knowledge of the specific content of one’s major. Add to this the critical thinking that allows our students to take in and evaluate new knowledge and the communication skills that enable them to express that knowledge clearly and persuasively. Thinker skills and the liberal arts go hand in hand.

There are plenty of good jobs out there for graduates with these thinker skills. In 2016, Burning Glass Technologies estimated that there were almost a million entry-level jobs for graduates with degrees in the liberal arts. And if the graduate had added coursework in an area such as business, computer programming, social media, data analysis, or graphic design—and others that build doer skills—there were an additional 900,000 jobs open for consideration.

Taken together, thinker skills and doer skills create a win-win situation: Those in the humanities and social sciences benefit from more jobs and higher salaries; employers benefit from the perspectives brought to business decisions by our disciplines.

Our students have an abundance of options to add applied skills. Two of the newest are a media production minor that gives hands-on experience in capturing sound and motion and a digital humanities minor that builds computer skills, including programming. In the coming year, my goal is to create an environment in which more and more of our students are encouraged to grow their options for career success by becoming both thinkers and doers.

—Eric Corty, Ph.D.