Interpreters of time
In times when the world and society are changing rapidly, the added value of the humanities scholar comes to the fore. On the one hand, more and more is possible: technological progress and medical possibilities are endless. On the other hand, there is less and less: many of the developments appear to have a downside and, on closer inspection, have been predatory on our planet and everything that lives on it. Humanity is even in danger of perishing from its own 'success'.
"In providing context and reflection for interpreting time, my perspective on the past, present, and future isn't the only right one — and it doesn't have to be."
But it is precisely in this complex and changing world that humanities scholars offer an indispensable basis beyond the issues of the day. The humanities scholar invites connection with the larger questions and reflections that have sometimes been at play for centuries. Critical thinking about language, history and culture helps to better understand today's society and to tackle important social issues and challenges of the future in an interdisciplinary way.
During the corona crisis, I wrote my thesis on the ethical (in)admissibility of a corona vaccination obligation. In this way I was able to show the important role that the government's arguments can play in public discussions on sensitive and polarised topics, such as corona, climate and migration. My thesis questioned, clarified and made explicit (gaps in) arguments and assumptions in vaccination policy by making connections from different disciplines: the state of biomedical science, bioethics, political philosophy and history.
My conclusion was that an obligation of corona vaccination by the Dutch government is not justified. But actually, the conclusion is the least interesting part: it's about the analysis. A good analysis guides the reader in knowledge and understanding, and is stimulating, insightful and enriching for both supporters and opponents of your idea. In providing context and reflection for interpreting time, my perspective on the past, present, and future isn't the only right one — and it doesn't have to be. The various perspectives complement each other and help develop an understanding of different points of view and build the necessary bridges between them.
Shanti Bolt (1995) is a bioethics, forensic scientist and consultant. In 2022, she obtained her master's degree in Philosophy, Bioethics and Health at VU Amsterdam. For the thesis that Bolt wrote for her master's, she received the prize for the best FGW master's thesis.
magazine for humanities alumni june 2023