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STEM Education Is Vital–but Not at the Expense of the Humanities

The Scientific American – Editorial

“Promoting science and technology education to the exclusion of the humanities may seem like a good idea, but it is deeply misguided. Scientific American has always been an ardent supporter of teaching STEM: science, technology, engineering and mathematics. But studying the interaction of genes or engaging in a graduate-level project to develop software for self-driving cars should not edge out majoring in the classics or art history. The need to teach both music theory and string theory is a necessity for the U.S. economy to continue as the preeminent leader in technological innovation. The unparalleled dynamism of Silicon Valley and Hollywood requires intimate ties that unite what scientist and novelist C. P. Snow called the “two cultures” of the arts and sciences.”(more)

Why STEM needs liberal arts

University Business – Kathy A. Krendl

“STEM needs liberal arts as much as liberal arts need STEM. A reason for this is because the marketplace is demanding it. Many of our corporate partners are asking for graduates who can work in teams, have good communication, critical thinking and problem solving skills and can work in a collaborative environment. What we have encountered is that graduates from traditional engineering programs, for example, have a lockstep curriculum – they are great mechanical or chemical engineers – but rarely are these engineers trained to think about different perspectives or look at the big picture.”(more)

Why America’s Business Majors Are in Desperate Need of a Liberal-Arts Education

The Atlantic – Yoni Appelbaum

“American undergraduates are flocking to business programs, and finding plenty of entry-level opportunities. But when businesses go hunting for CEOs or managers, “they will say, a couple of decades out, that I’m looking for a liberal arts grad,” said Judy Samuelson, executive director of the Aspen Institute’s Business and Society Program. That presents a growing challenge to colleges and universities. Students are clamoring for degrees that will help them secure jobs in a shifting economy, but to succeed in the long term, they’ll require an education that allows them to grow, adapt, and contribute as citizens—and to build successful careers. And it’s why many schools are shaking up their curricula to ensure that undergraduate business majors receive something they may not even know they need—a rigorous liberal-arts education…business majors seem to be graduating with some of the technical skills they’ll need to secure jobs, but without having made the gains in writing or critical-thinking skills they’ll require to succeed over the course of their careers…”(more)

Education for a jobless future: Are colleges preparing students for the workforce?

The Washington Post – Jeffrey J. Selingo

“The seismic shift in how campus recruiting is done these days makes it extremely difficult for college graduates to figure out what they need to do to best prepare for the workforce…We know there are odd things happening in the job market right now that we can’t seem to explain…Entire industries are disappearing almost overnight…One recent study predicts that nearly half of American jobs are at risk from automation and artificial intelligence. What kinds of jobs should the education system be preparing students for? How does anyone know what the job market might look like in two or four years when today’s high-school seniors will be looking for employment? So how are students — along with their parents, teachers, and professors — supposed to navigate this new world?…Two recent reports from Burning Glass, a company that mines and analyzes online job ads, provide a few clues as to what the future job market holds for new graduates:”(more)

What Future Leaders Need to Learn in College

Fortune – Geoff Colvin

“To all the brand new college graduates who majored in a liberal arts field, I have a message: If you want to be a leader, you did the right thing. This is a controversial message at a time when…America’s dearth of STEM majors is conventionally viewed as a serious problem. None of that is wrong. Coding is becoming the literacy of the modern economy, and everyone should be conversant with it…here’s a message for students about to enter college: College isn’t trade school. Whether you major in a liberal arts field or STEM or anything else, you emerge not with the skills that will make you successful at a specific company but rather with a foundation for more learning. As advancing technology takes over more of the world’s left-brain work, the skills of deep human interaction, of leadership, are increasingly in demand. What a liberal arts education gives you – critical thinking, clear communication, the lessons of Homer – is growing more valuable, not less.”(more)

How to Make a Liberal Arts Degree a Career Asset

Fortune – Anne Fisher

“Plenty of research supports the idea that STEM degrees, although they’re in big demand, are not the only horse in the race. Two recent employer surveys from the National Association of Colleges and Employers, for instance, show that four skills outrank technical knowledge and computer proficiency on employers’ wish lists: Critical thinking/problem-solving, work ethic, teamwork, and strong oral and written communications. Not only that, but those “soft” skills matter more as people progress in their careers…Still worried? Of course you are. So here are three practical suggestions you might pass along to your daughter (if she’ll listen).”(more)