I was a Liberal Arts in college. I am sure a lot of you were as well. We majored in English, History, Philosophy, Anthropology, et. Al. In other words, if it had no practical application, we majored in it.
Don’t get me wrong. I loved studying English and it has helped me enormously in business. Where others see business as colorless, I see it as a constantly changing kaleidoscope of color.
According to the Washington Post, in a Nick Anderson article, “College is remade as tech majors surge and humanities dwindle,” liberal arts majors are in decline.
Two trends in higher education nationwide are colliding at the University of Maryland: booming enrollment in computer science and plummeting student demand for the humanities.
The number of students nationwide seeking four-year degrees in computer and information sciences and related fields shot up 34 percent from 2017 to 2022. The English-major head count fell 23 percent. History fell 12 percent.“College is remade as tech majors surge and humanities dwindle.,” Nick Anderson, May 20, 2023
We must attribute much of this change to the STEM and STEAM movement. STEM launched in 2001. That means the children first impacted by STEM are in their late teens and early 20s. In other words, they are the students forgoing liberal arts to major in the hard sciences.
STEM and STEAM toys and an emphasis on the hard sciences in schools have led to this moment. I hear cheering, but is such a shift good for the children who choose these majors and our society?
Twenty years ago, girls were entering the hard sciences at a much lower rate than boys. STEM was, therefore, initially created to encourage girls to take on Engineering, Architecture, and other hard science majors.
We can call it a success based on the current results cited by The Washington Post. In a competitive world, we need all our rising adults to have access to degrees leading to professions.
Still, I am unsettled that art, literature, music, and history are being relegated to irrelevancy. A civilization that ignores the arts is ultimately a civilization that lacks a soul.
However, I am not overly worried. These trends tend to self-correct. I predict that in a few years, we will see a shift back to the arts as the hard sciences become glutted with candidates for degrees and employment.
What do you think