It’s a cliche at this point; you’ve heard it dozens of times. The fatal moment when some well-meaning individual asks, “so what are you in school for?”
Tell them you’re majoring in english, history, fine arts, or a myriad of other liberal arts programs and you’re inevitably hit with the painfully overused “oh- so you’re going to be a Barista then?”
The notion that some fields don’t matter or are utterly pointless is a concept that’s proliferated through societies around the world over the past few years.
With the importance of STEM subjects, an acronym for the academic disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and math, politicians and policymakers across the nation have been criticizing humanities majors.
Florida’s Governor Rick Scott said while trying to defund liberal arts programs in 2011 “Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”
It’s not just Governor Scott either. In 2014 President Obama himself said in one of his speeches, “I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.”
To be a humanities major is to face contemptuous glances and long-winded diatribes about narrow job prospects and minuscule salaries. Little do the nay-sayers know is that 74% of employers would hire a liberal arts major, and that by the age of 56, those with degrees outside of the pre-professional sphere are likely to earn $2,000 more per year.
Sadly these statistics don’t resound on a global level.
Most recently, this September Japan’s Minister of Education, Hakuban Shimomura publicly urged the nation’s universities and colleges to downsize or completely shut down their humanities and social science departments. His logic being that such subjects did little to benefit society.
So far 43 universities have complied with his request, and no longer have programs ranging from economics to pre law to social work. Our current world view is catastrophic for the long term health of society.
With vital disciplines being stifled everyday the world loses a wealth of knowledge, and incredibly talented individuals are denied access to fields they can thrive in. Instead, people are being forced into professions they don’t enjoy, negatively affecting the quality of the work being produced and their mental well being.
A world full of engineers and no therapists is as doomed to fail as a civilization with only farmers and no doctors.
Let them joke about the geography majors, critique the political science experts, and deride linguists.
Let them try to tip the equilibrium under the false gospel that the study of human quirks is of less value than the study of machines.
We’ll take the tacky Starbucks jibes with a smile, knowing that without us, the world would be a much less interesting place.