From The Chronicle of Higher Education: Engineers Need the Liberal Arts, Too

STEM has its roots in the humanities. If our intellectual foundations are uprooted, then, naturally, the natural sciences and their applications are in danger of withering away. This is a strong reason for the protests that followedPresident Trump’s beginning attempts to deforest our education, which might have had in mindthe prospect of recreating America in his own image. The resistance included the engineers, who managed to circle his legs with enough rope to fell the giant before theswipe atthe National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. For Kenneth Osgood, this was very good. But we shouldn’t be surprised that the engineers clanked themselves into alliance with the poets and painters, because as humans the humanities should be importantto them as well.

Adam Niklewicz for The Chronicle

Adam Niklewicz for The Chronicle

Thats why, when hundreds of recruiters descend on my campus twice each year, I make a point of understanding their needs. I ask any I encounter the same thing: “What are you looking for from our graduates?” Without fail, I get a version of the same answer. Yes, they want technical skills. But they also want something broader. They want to hire engineers who can communicate and think critically, who can adapt and create, who can assess the quality of conflicting information, and who can view a problem from multiple perspectives. These are the core skills cultivated by the liberal arts, and Ive never met an employer who didnt think they were more important than most other people think.

We should therefore not be searching to winnow the humanities from the fields of study belonging to STEM but to integrate them into STEAM. Diversity and the diversification of labor are two trends that will not bear the fruits wewant them if there is no force to integrate whatever is being made more colorful.The fashion condones both without considering this qualification because it might resist the fashion, which always looks best when it comes in one-piece.The admission that the humanities need to serve a more integrated role in education would therefore require some integrity from administrators in a time when politics and educations are themselves becoming increasingly integrated.

Read his full post at The Chronicle of Higher Education.

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