Liberal arts programs eroding

Many politicians and institutions favor STEM over the liberal arts

Suad Mohamed, Editorials Editor

The world advances daily due to technology. As these changes occur, many people have developed a defective belief.
Most have come to the conclusion that degrees and careers related to STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) are more important than the liberal arts, which include things like philosophy and literature.
Often parents will even steer their children away from studying a liberal arts topic and will encourage them to pursue a degree in STEM.
Students argue that liberal arts courses aren’t rigorous enough and have no real benefit. Even former President Barack Obama called into question the worth of an art history degree.
But why is this happening?
The simple answer is job outlooks and the economy.
There aren’t many job openings for liberal arts majors. Most times, the pay is less than those who go to vocational schools rather than college, like welders.
Because of this, those who are against studying liberal arts argue that people who do study it do little to nothing to help the economy.
In fact, many lawmakers have proposed plans to cut state funding for those who wish to study liberal arts, and in turn provide more aid to those who plan to pursue STEM.
Governor of Kentucky Matt Bevin defended this stance, saying that there’s “more incentive to electrical engineers than French literature majors.”
The National Conference of State Legislature reports that 15 states provide bonuses to universities based on how many people graduate with STEM related degrees.
Some school districts have also decided to pay public school teachers in high demand subjects more than others.
This means that in places like Douglas County in Colorado, math and science teachers are paid more than history and English teachers.
There’s also been an increase in school sponsored STEM activities and programs across the country.
As a result of all of this, the amount of people with degrees in STEM have increased by 43 percent from 2014 to 2017. Meanwhile, the number of people who graduated with degrees in the liberal arts has dropped 11 percent.
This is a real problem because in reality, liberal arts are just as important as STEM.
Those who study liberal arts learn important skills like critical thinking and analysis, which can be used for any type of career
It’s not chemistry majors that teach kindergarten students how to read, write, and spell. It’s liberal arts students. How would society function if they weren’t there to teach basic skills.
Additionally, liberal arts and STEM are beneficial to one another.
If people didn’t study history, there would be no one to pass on knowledge that came from previous civilizations, like the Chinese compass.
Also, liberal arts majors can benefit from the new technology created by STEM majors.
Consequently, many liberal arts universities, like Wellsley, have introduced STEM programs.
Conversely, a few STEM universities, like Rutgers, have worked on implementing liberal arts programs into the curriculum.
“It’s very important that all people know and recognize that STEM and the liberal arts are equally important and beneficial,” sophomore Cynthia Nguyen said. “It’s also important to note that STEM wouldn’t exist without the liberal arts.”
All in all, both liberal arts and STEM are important. Both should be treated equally. People should be able to study whichever they want without having to worry about whether or not they’ll be given aid.