Liberal arts majors don’t acquit ourselves particularly well.
Every so often, some politician, commentator or writer in the public eye sees that we don’t have enough STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) majors / workers, and decides that history education, creative writing majors, and women’s studies programs are to blame. If we need more STEM graduates, why throw scholarship money, grants, or any such resources at these programs? Clearly the only thing science programs need are more money (note that you’ll never see the government trying to throw more money at ANY K-12 program, science or otherwise).
The liberal arts majors of the world reflexively respond that the goal of liberal arts is to teach critical thinking skills or that it’s creating the next generation of world-changers or that these skills are applicable to all careers. The world would grind to a halt and fall into a new dark age if this were to happen.
We need to stop this, now.
Liberal arts studies teach you how to think? Go tell that to a scientist. They’ll tell you about the scientific method, which is an actual method for inquiry into our world. If they’re nice, they won’t laugh at you until you’ve left the room. World changers? Anyone can change the world – it’s not restricted to liberal arts. And cross-career skills? No employer gives a damn about your cross-career skills. Every single person who has a bachelor’s degree should have cross-career skills like “being able to write a complete sentence” or “basic research abilities” or “logic.”
Look, I was an art major at a small state college that prides itself on its liberal arts education. I’m not knocking my education. It’s worked out well for myself and many of my friends, and I’ve seen many of my colleagues do amazing things with their liberal arts educations. But I’m not kidding myself that this is only part of an education.