One of the skills useful in every job is knowing which are the person that most influenced that job all over history. When computer engineers go to university, they study Alan Turing. Economists study Adam Smith and John Maynard Keynes. Why?
If you want to just shoot photos and print them on your wall, probably is not necessary.
But if you want to understand the power of photography, how photography can change the world. How photography can describe the history of a society, then you need to look at the past.
One of the most interesting things about these studies is that most of the famous photographers of the past were travelers. Globalization was still far, and the only way to show the world was traveling.