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The Optimist

Liberal arts still have value in a STEM world

Eric Johnsen, Staff Writer

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As college rapidly approaches, seniors at South (including me) are starting to think more about possible majors. These days there is a lot of pressure to major in something ‘practical’ with high job placement, like business or STEM.
People approach college as a monetary investment, evaluated only by its financial returns. There is no longer a premium placed on being a knowledgeable, well-informed and ethical person, only on being financially successful.
Many cite the economy as the reason college students need to be so career-minded. Yet, the economic crisis of 2008 would not have been avoided if more students had majored in finance. In fact, it was the financiers themselves that caused the crisis: bankers and investors caught up in this idea of success being defined by careerism took advantage of working class Americans too focused on making the next down payment on their house to see they were being exploited by the system.
Subjects such as history, philosophy, or English may not be the most lucrative, but they help make people good members of society. Knowledge is only useful with proper application. If we want to succeed as a country, as a civilization, then we need people who know why previous civilizations failed, so we can avoid those pitfalls; we need people who understand philosophy, so we can shape our nation in accordance to the morals and values we claim it represents; and we need English majors, so we can communicate with the public about important issues.
And regardless, it isn’t as hard as people think to get a job with a degree in humanities. In fact, there are a plethora of opportunities in academia such as teaching or research, according to a 2013 study by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute, despite the recent recession the unemployment rates for English language and literature majors and of history, philosophy, and religious studies majors were 9.8 and 9.5 percent, respectively, only slightly higher than the overall average of 9 percent.
We are at a place in human society where the speed of our progress is no longer the limiting factor. Rather, the speed at which we are developing ethical systems to regulate our advancements is lagging dangerously behind.

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The student news site of Bloomington High School South
Liberal arts still have value in a STEM world