Author Alain De Botton says yes, they are. In an article posted online he argues the world seems to have forgotten what the humanities, including art and culture are for. So we have scores of arts graduates finding the world has no demand for their specialized skills and interests. Instead, they spend their time dispensing coffees and waiting tables - if they are lucky, with years of expensive study in their chosen field seemingly going to waste.
De Botton argues that universities seems to be almost apologizing for having a humanities faculty, fearing they can't compete with science and technology, economics etc. He says the way humanities are taught is dry, arcane and irrelevant to the needs of society.
"This represents a gross neglect of what the humanities are really for: they are for helping us to live and to die. The humanities are the closest things we have to a replacement for religion. They are a storehouse of vitally important knowledge about how to lead our lives".
So he proposes that universities be completely reconfigured to include a department for relationships, and institute of dying, a department for self-knowledge, centres for raising children, reconnecting with nature and dealing with illness. Given that we don't seem to be able to manage relationships too well, raise kids effectively and look after the environment and are terrified of death, there seems to be a massive untapped market for study in these areas. The key point here is that study in the humanities, if correctly targeted can have a therapeutic affect on society, which we desperately need in these increasingly troubled times.