The following is an edited version of an actual letter sent by the Tokyo Global Engineering Corporation to a humanities professor that wrote to the corporation and inquired as to internship opportunities for students studying subjects in the humanities. Names and identifying information have been removed as a courtesy to the professor. The letter is provided for prospective interns considering applying for similar internships with the Tokyo Global Engineering Corporation.
Thank you for your query. Our corporation apologizes to answer your question in a manner that is by no means brief; however, our corporation must take this opportunity to introduce the phenomenon that our corporation is navigating, which is, perhaps, borne of the Academy.
At that, the short answer to your question is yes, our corporation does accept and place into internships students studying the humanities. The longer version of the answer begins by hovering a critical lens over higher education, and ends with the world’s population center.
Higher Ed has a problem. But our corporation does not indict universities. Indeed, we work to complement them, via our internship programs. But there is something about the classroom that is inherently all theory and no practice. Classroom walls contribute to the growing number of unemployed postgraduates protesting national governments everywhere. Multiple court filings around the world reveal graduates that paid large amounts of money to universities, only to be rendered unemployable, and demand far more than mere restitution.
What is it you do, as a university professor, that a librarian could not? What IS a university? What is a library? Indeed, enrollment is down at schools around the world–minus those research institutions with leading laboratories, of course. Would-be students are obtaining desired information via other media, such as the World Wide Web. For example, just as the opportunity to hear the Berlin Philharmonic via a compact disc killed community orchestras everywhere, YouTube videos of eminent professors in their classrooms, including those that died years ago, are killing you. Yours is a dying breed that must adapt to survive. Your query indicates you will.
Unquestionably, Prof. Bourdieu had you in mind when developing the notion of cultural capital. But the financial capital required to access the campus’ “habitus” cannot be reconciled with any philosophy of education, except deschooling, perhaps. Ironically, the preferred outcome is increasingly revealing itself to be the internship, almost solely in the heart of the densest urban centers.
The internship is not an answer to the higher ed crisis; it is a result. It provides practice, minus the theory–else, at best, some theory. But, increasingly, for emerging scholars seeking cultural capital while simultaneously forbearing opportunities to earn money, the answer to the question as to whether one should spend years in classrooms reviewing literature at the speed of the slowest person in the classroom, or spend six months gaining entry-level employment experience at the speed of a chosen industry–well, it’s not even a question, for most.
Nowhere is this phenomenon more prevalent than in the world’s largest city. Suddenly, the greatest cultural capital is no longer a degree from Oxford; it is an internship in downtown Tokyo. For example, there are corporations in Tokyo that accept interns from Dakar that are seeking mere office experience: literally, the opportunity to see photocopiers in action and learn how to push green buttons and load paper. Perhaps, not unlike paper mills (in the pejorative sense), the opportunity to say that one interned at an office in Tokyo has more value to someone in Dakar than an undergraduate degree hanging on a wall, even when reliant on the very “structures” opposed (in the Foucauldian crypto-normative sense).
At the risk of conceit, this corporation must write that it is on the higher end of the internship spectrum: we focus on specialized academic disciplines. But do not let our name deceive you, for we do no construction; the projects this corporation puts on paper are never implemented. Our work is entirely theoretical, which, to be done well, must be interdisciplinary. Transdisciplinary–and with seamless involvement of the arts, humanities, and social sciences.
For example, you’ve heard many ideas for reversing global warming. Recently, students (interns) of this corporation developed a design proposal to, over the course of sixty-two years to come, bring plant growth across the Sahara, via increasing rings of domestic cattle grazing areas. Recently, such students presented the proposal to the Dean of the Africa Diplomatic Corps. Were the project to be successful, every nation-state that shares the Sahara would need to agree to participate fully; else, this project would meet the same fate of most projects that have massive price tags as appendices.
The involvement of arts, humanities, and social sciences are inseparably intertwined with global engineering. Indeed, the literature review process of the aforementioned project began with art, specifically, rock art analysis, which later moved to paleozoogeography, but first showed, via centuries-old images of animals in the world’s hottest and driest spots, that plants were once abundantly in areas that have since desertified, implying that poorly managed agriculture may have caused environmental disaster, which is precisely what paleozoogeography has confirmed. Absent written records–written language during that time–one is left to triangulate art, science, and experience to determine what happened and how to remedy it. Similarly, students of the humanities could assist in answering questions, such as, how persons implementing this project should present it to communities in the Sahara where persons are illiterate, or have low literacy. What role could the humanities play in that? How could the project be communicated visually, other than mere figures in a journal article?
Your question is a welcome one, for we are especially in need of anthropologists and sociologists. Engineers everywhere, ever in need of a good dose of reflexivity, increasingly design bridges over whole towns, but never connect with humans underneath such bridges, other than to cast insensitive shadows–with such bridges, and silence. We advertise our need for such help, but receive little interest from students in the social sciences:
Moreover, from engraving to videography, our corporation is increasingly concerned with how it presents itself through art:
Ever mindful of the one rule of Prof. Richard Buckminster Fuller, never to present unfinished work, this corporation largely does not present its work, at least not broadly, especially because of its lack of participants in precisely those disciplines about which you inquired. With help from the right people, we could best communicate with those that are subject to the greatest communicative interference: those with the least capital, cultural or otherwise. This is the essence of human rights, from which global engineering cannot be separated.
The better answer to your question is that we have asked universities everywhere for such students. It may be that such students don’t see themselves as able to contribute to solutions for global problems; it may be that such students simply don’t want internships. But we have program curricula for such disciplines in place, and such students need only apply.
We welcome your continued interest, and theirs, please.
Very Truly Yours,
The Tokyo Global Engineering Corporation
2-7-20 Kitaaoyama, Inose Building 2F
Minato, Tokyo 107-0061 Japan