Is a PhD in an Arts subject as valid as Science?

Is a PhD in an Arts subject as valid as Science?

Jul, 30 2023 Kendall Fairchild

Beginning the Age-Old Debate

As Kendall, a blogger living in the vibrant city of Melbourne, I must admit that I've been intrigued by a question that's been popping up in academic circles more frequently these days. "Is a PhD in Arts as valid as in Sciences?" Honestly, this is a question that roused my nerd senses. So, I pondered it, researched it, and even dreamt about it—and that's when I'm not grappling with my inability to fold fitted sheets or refrain from ordering takeout three times a week.

The root source of this debate, as far as I can uncover, is the contentious distinction between Arts and Sciences that's been long established, almost like Vegemite versus Nutella. Society has erected certain perceptions about these broad domains that can often translate into unconscious biases. Isn't it fun when we paint with broad brush strokes?

Understanding the Value in the Sciences and Arts

Before we go headfirst into the vortex, it's crucial to understand the inherent values within both Science and Arts. To irk my more scientifically inclined friends, I'll lead with saying that a PhD in Arts is just as prestigious as one in Science, but wait before you throw your perfectly modelled atoms at me!

Arts and Humanities focus on understanding human behaviour, culture, motivations, emotions and communications—a philosophical, creative and a sociological pursuit. On the other hand, Science aims at understanding the physical world and its phenomena through systematic experimentation and fact-checking—a logical and analytical endeavour. So, comparing the two is like comparing a Lasagna to a Pavlova, both great, but fundamentally different.

Debunking Some Myths

When speaking about PhDs, both in Arts and Sciences, it's crucial to dismantle some myths that have clung to our collective understanding like barnacles. One such myth is that a PhD in Arts isn't measurable—an assertion as flawed as my understanding of the laundry symbols on clothing tags.

In actuality, research in Arts can be equally quantifiable; the variables merely differ from those in the Science. For instance, a study examining the impact of Shakespeare's works on modern literary trends requires careful measurement of various factors, comparative analysis, and critical interpretation.

The World Needs Both: Arts and Sciences

It's now time to turn our gaze towards the importance of both fields in the real world—our messy, chaotic, beautiful world that's home to more species of beetles than we can count. Here, we need the logic of sciences to understand the universe, along with the empathy of arts for social harmony.

Imagine a world where we know everything about chemical bonding but nothing about the philosophical questions of existence, morality, or human emotions. That's a world as incomplete as my resolution to curb coffee consumption. A PhD in Arts, just like in Sciences, serves as a pillar to hold up this complicated, multifaceted world we live in.

Brief Intermission: Anecdote Time!

Okay, it's high time I slip in a short anecdote from my life and break up the plot. As a 40% storyteller after all, it's practically essential. Back in the days of my university assignments and surviving on two-minute noodles, I had quite a few friends pursuing their PhDs in both the fields. I clearly recall the countless debates, each side adamant about being the ‘’real deal’’. They were like kangaroos in boxing gloves!

I remember one friend, an Art major, conducting riveting research on ancient Aboriginal music, its influences, and relevance in contemporary society. And then there was another pal, a Science major, who spent nights in his lab solving equations that seemed straight out of an alien transmission. Interestingly, their research was equally intense, exhaustive and enlightening, proving that both fields hold their ground firmly in academia.

Summing Up: All's Fair in Love and PhDs

In conclusion, the question of whether a PhD in an Arts subject is as valid as in Science boils down to what we view as the fundamental purpose of a doctoral degree. It's about pushing the boundaries of knowledge, irrespective of the field. It's about contributing original, thought-provoking work to academia. A doctoral degree, at its core, represents an intellectual peak, which, fortunate for us, looms large in both fields.

So, the next time you stumble upon this question, remember the lasagna and Pavlova metaphor. It's not about one being better or more valid than the other; it’s about appreciating their unique flavours, complexities and impacts. After all, isn’t variety the spice of academic life?