The Liberal Arts in an Age of STEM: Part 1: Recognizing the Pattern

In the view of legislators, governing boards, and certain administrators, higher education needs to assign a much greater emphasis to the STEM disciplines. That’s where the jobs are, the argument goes, and these are the academic fields where today’s research will result in the discoveries that will support tomorrow’s economy, national security, and quality of life. At many colleges and universities, that argument is having an effect. Enrollments in courses related to the STEM disciplines are growing while the number of students declaring a major in the arts, humanities, and some of the social sciences are stagnating or even declining. Faculty members in these non-STEM areas often feel threatened by these developments. Those responses largely fall flat and with good reason.

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