This is the title of a piece in today’s NYT on Wake Forest University and its approach to bridging the liberal arts to careers. The article is worth a read but read also the readers’ comments. One point that emerges, and is confirmed by our research, is the need for humanities majors to combine the liberal arts with technical skills. Unless students are going to professional school (Law is a prime candidate for philosophy majors), some hard skill is required for entry into the market. According to a lot of anecdotal evidence, the liberal arts dimension takes over and adds comparative value to careers a little later in the process. Also missing from the Wake Forest approach is any serious focus the international marketplace, international internships, and so on. Our students have found enormous career-enhancement value in combining technical fields with foreign language/cultural study and an international internship.
Advantages of the Double Major
There are many reasons the world looks to the U.S. as the model for higher education, but a big one is the type of innovative thinking that results from the combination of broad and deep thinking. The American bachelor’s degree, in fact, encourages this hybridity by requiring students to pursue general education before specializing in a major. While both students and professors often consider GE coursework a waste of time (and it certainly can be), situating thought at the borders of disciplines is a proven source of intellectual dynamism and creativity. This article takes the idea a step further by touting the advantages of the double major, especially when the majors are in fields very different from each other.
A Humanities “Report Card”
The American Association of Arts and Sciences recently issued a report card on the Humanities. Despite a rash of reports by the popular press on our state of “crisis”, the AAAS points to some positive news, including:
-84% of humanities majors are satisfied with their choice of major
-humanities majors are more widely distributed throughout the economic sectors than any other major
-the number of majors in the humanities as grown increasingly since the late 1980s
-between 2000-’09 humanities majors scored higher on the GMAT than business majors (!)
and so on.
See the infographic of the report here: http://www.humanitiesindicators.org/binaries/hum_report_card.pdf
Liberal Arts + Skills = Employment
Business Insider argues that the liberal arts are highly valued by the marketplace but mainly when enhanced by specific skill sets.
To find out which skills are desirable, read here: http://www.businessinsider.com/liberal-arts-majors-need-these-8-skills-to-get-ahead-2013-8?goback=.gmp_78767.gde_78767_member_269777772#!
Crimes Against Humanities
Leon Wieseltier takes on Steven Pinker’s recent broadside against the Humanities (in defense of “scientism”) in this week’s The New Republic.