Why we need liberal arts majors

Should we only produce college graduates in STEM fields?  This college president, writing in Slate, doesn't think so.  We will always need creative people who can solve problems and handle abiguity, and these can come from a variety of majors.
Last week, Florida Gov. Rick Scott called for reductions in state appropriations for particular academic disciplines so that public universities can focus resources on producing graduates in the STEM fields—science, technology, engineering, and math. This shift, he claims, would better serve the state by spurring job creation. For some reason, he seemed especially concerned that Florida universities might be producing too many anthropologists. He was quoted as saying: “We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. … I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on, those types of degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job.”

As a university president, I can assure Gov. Scott that his approach to both higher education and economic development is misguided and counterproductive. The notion that we must strip away academic programs not seemingly relevant to workforce development reflects a simplistic and retrograde view of the role of higher education in the American economy.

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