Questions concerning the worth of humanities may have always been present, but these concerns have become an obsession nationally—perhaps internationally—this year. There was the Florida Governor who wanted to charge students more for majoring in the non-STEM subjects. The unequivocally titled New York Times article “The Decline and Fall of the English Major” was essentially a letter to us college students, begging us not to neglect the diminishing art of writing. Closer to home, there was the Herald‘s report that 54 percent of students were concentrating in 10 subjects of our offered 79, English being the only humanity to grace the top ten. We can blame the economy, the government, the man; at the end of the day, it just means I’m scared of the fact my shopping cart has such ‘impractical’ classes.
Late this summer, The New Republic published an article by our very own President Paxson praising the humanities from an economic standpoint. While it may seem studying Plato, who never had a good idea for an app, or Jane Austen, who I doubt would have been the ideal employee for McKinsey, is both irrelevant to success in today’s world and of less value to our society than, say, taking CS-0150, Paxson argues that not immediately seeing the importance of something doesn’t diminish its importance. Translation: Randomness is key. Weird knowledge can be weirdly useful knowledge. (I’m sure we’ve all also had about five professors talk about how class they randomly took ‘changed their lives’—I find it adorable every time.) Paxson also argues the importance of humanities concentrators in considering our place in an increasingly globalized and technologically advanced world. Whether you agree with all her points or not, it’s something to consider before Banner locks us out.
Check out The New Yorker‘s take on Paxson’s piece here.