Last time I searched “Why you shouldn’t major in liberal arts in college,” I got about a million results on Google. “S.T.E.M. (abbreviation for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) is the way,” these articles all seem to say. The lesson I learned was this: Major in liberal arts, and you will end up in your parents’ basement after graduation.
But is liberal arts really “dead”? Are science and engineering actually “worth” more than, say, humanities, sociology or political science? Granted, the demand for S.T.E.M. graduates is much higher than the demand for art history majors, and engineering students are more likely to get a stable job that earns higher earnings.
The steady decline of liberal arts will be a great loss to society. What a true, comprehensive liberal arts education teaches is how to think creatively. Those who think outside the box will increase in demand as the challenges of the world become ever more complex and require more interdisciplinary thinking. A S.T.E.M. education, on the other hand, teaches students to focus on one discipline and narrows their spectrum of thought.
This phenomenon is already happening in countries such as South Korea and Japan. In these traditionally S.T.E.M.-focused countries, liberal arts graduates are continuously growing in demand as more creative people are needed to develop innovative products.
But should the purpose of a liberal arts education be on preparing students to get well-paying jobs? No. Its ultimate goal is teaching students to be more knowledgeable about the human condition, and these benefits transcend any type of monetary returns.
(Cover Photo Courtesy Flickr Creative Commons)