Protect the liberal arts majors from Gov. Scott
Published: Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Updated: Thursday, November 3, 2011 13:11
Listen up liberal arts majors, apparently your education isn't worth the scholarships you've earned or loans you've taken out. And liberal arts professors, apparently the skills and experience you've gained isn't worth teaching. That's the message Gov. Rick Scott has sent to thousands of students and professors recently while on a conservative talk radio show in Daytona Beach.
The major targeted the most? Anthropology — ironically the same degree Scott's daughter earned. Of the degree, Scott said, "It's a great degree if people want to get it, but we don't need them here." Well, I certainly hope Scott's daughter is leaving the state and making way for the job-creating world along with science, technology, engineering and math majors.
But I've got some news for Scott. According to Politifact, the National Science Foundation considers anthropology a part of STEM research. Specifically, anthropology falls under the letter "S" for a type of science called social science. Heard the term before? It's the study of varying aspects of human society. In fact, our own College of Sciences represents several of these social science majors, including anthropology and the subjects I'm studying: political science and sociology. According to the online encyclopedia Encarta, it can include not only those majors, but also history and economics.
And maybe Scott should study economics. If he did, he would probably realize that many of the skills gained through liberal arts degree programs actually help to create jobs. As the Sun Sentinel rightfully states, many entrepreneurs, some of Scott's favorite people, come from various educational backgrounds. Steve Jobs accredited his inspiration for designing the Macintosh desktop to a calligraphy course he sat in on. And as Jobs said himself, without that course, Mac and Windows would not have been the same systems we use every day.
Scott may also need to take another look at Florida's economy. In September, our state stood at 10.6 percent unemployment, with some 977,000 jobless workers. According to the U.S. Department of Labor, we have the fifth-highest unemployment in the nation.
And what's Scott's solution? Attack the liberal arts. "Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don't think so."
Well, here's what I think, Scott. I think you're forgetting that each student is allowed to pursue whatever degree he or she wants, and that a healthy nation is one where each individual can seek his of her passion. I happen to be a fan of all STEM subjects. The knowledge gained through even casually studying some of the hard sciences, such as biology and physics, is invaluable, and I encourage everyone to do so.
But Scott has failed to realize that redirecting funding to STEM degrees is not going to employ the almost one million jobless workers in our state. What it will do is send the millions of tuition dollars toward liberal arts degrees to states that actually value students like me and my fellow social scientists. But then again, Scott did say, "We don't need them [anthropologists] here."
Well, I'll tell you who I don't want here: Scott. That's why I'm not only a liberal arts student, but I'm also a registered voter. And in 2014, I'm going to make sure Scott gets the message, and I urge all of my fellow STEM students to do the same.