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In defense of liberal arts—it’s no minor course

Arts and humanities are among the few disciplines that cannot be replaced by machines in the future
10:59 AM July 07, 2018

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—ILLUSTRATION BY WIKA NADERA

With endless readings and deadlines, the life of a liberal arts major is definitely not a walk in the park. And it’s worse on days when one comes across people who mock one’s choice of course.

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Since liberal arts graduates are not as in demand as those who studied science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) courses, they are often perceived as inferior and less likely to land a job.

During college admissions, universities are more lenient in accepting students to their Bachelor of Arts (BA) programs.

The required grade is relatively lower than what is required in engineering, accountancy and science courses.

Whenever non-BA students face grade deficiencies, some professors threaten them with transfer to BA programs, as if shifting to a BA course is a demotion.

And when a student does not get into his preferred course, he turns to BA programs as a “safety net” to stay in the university. This is how liberal arts gets known to be mere tapunan (disposal).

Even our government advises students, particularly those who qualify for financial aid, to take “priority courses” such as engineering, science and math, information technology, health sciences, business administration and architecture.

Minor pursuit

Situations like these create a perception that liberal arts is just a minor pursuit in life.

The law of supply and demand is also usually cited to explain the lower salary rates among fresh graduates of liberal arts.

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However, this belief is simplistic, because in reality, factors such as income, price and expectations affect demand. Our low perception of liberal arts—or too much preference for doctors, lawyers, engineers—influences the market demand.

Society should create equal and fair opportunities for both liberal arts and science-related disciplines in schools and the workplace.

If schools start to implement stricter admission policies, incoming college students will likely take liberal arts courses more seriously. Similarly, if government and private firms pay them right, graduates will not be forced to leave their jobs for higher-paying ones.

Arts and humanities are also among the few disciplines that cannot be replaced by machines in the future. Remind your friend that, who thinks you will starve just because you’re focusing on history.

Liberal arts majors invest in some of the most valuable aspects of life—art, romance, creativity, critical thinking.

American writer Kurt Vonnegut said they are the very human way to make life more bearable and means to make one’s soul grow.

Most of us make a living, but liberal arts teaches us to cast a reverence toward life.

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TAGS: Liberal Arts, STEM
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