a, Opinion

A word for the liberal arts

With budgets being cut left and right, and students worrying about their employment prospects after university, Liberal Arts degrees have come under siege. The question—or accusation—on people’s minds is whether the Liberal Arts are truly relevant to life post-graduation.

In recent years, budget cuts have been a serious concern for universities, including McGill in the past year. While a variety of faculties have seen resources cut, an emphasis on revenue generation means that arts disciplines often fall to the cutting board first. The stated reasons are simple; Arts students, courses, and faculty, don’t make as much money in research or carry as much prestige. New innovations and discoveries are more often the domain of the sciences—at least in terms of tangible progress. Humanities exist more in the realm of hypotheses that are harder to confirm and exploration of topics that often don’t create a profit in the ‘real’ world. For this reason, sciences seem like a better investment for the future.

Another challenge facing the humanities is a drop in interest among students. While there are many ways to look at this decline, an oft-cited reason is the poor economy. This line is the same every time: we’re in a serious recession, as we have been since 2008, and life will not be easy for students leaving the safety of the university cocoon. The joy of learning for the sake of understanding the world around us, it seems, is no longer the goal of university; it is soley an investment towards our future and job security.  While on some level, university is too expensive to not be an investment, it has gotten to the point that many have dismissed the idea of learning for its own sake outright.

The perception that Arts degrees aren’t applicable to real-world jobs is false. While Liberal Arts students don’t often come out of university with a working knowledge of the Higgs boson, they do graduate with the ability to think critically and creatively, and to communicate their ideas in a  clear and concise way. These skills help in the workforce for a variety of tasks and are something employers are looking for. They take a lifetime to teach, but are infinitely applicable, no matter the job.

Certainly Science degrees are lucrative, and a safer choice for employment. While one area of study isn’t better than the other, the Liberal Arts are—and always will be—relevant. They foster an appreciation of learning and provide the basic skills for broad careers. They can be risky in terms of employment, but they’re incredibly rewarding in terms of learning and appreciation of humanity.

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One Comment

  1. “they do graduate with the ability to think critically and creatively, and to communicate their ideas in a clear and concise way.” Yeah, my ass. Most of the kids who come out of the Arts faculty are idiots who will never come close to contributing anything to their field, and they also fail at innovative and critical thinking. The only exception is probably the upper quintile of the honors students of their respective fields; everyone else is a loudmouthed moron. Tenth rate thinkers who simply regurgitate and don’t know how to form a proper argument or make valid logical inferences (if they even know what logical inferences are).

    “The perception that Arts degrees aren’t applicable to real-world jobs is false.” That is true, but it’s only useful in the hands of an already brilliant arts student. 90% of kids graduating with these degrees are BAD at critical thinking and BAD at everything else. They have absolutely no skills at all. Virtually none of the Arts majors are smart as they think they are, and they are all worthless and have knowledge of nothing. They don’t have any appreciation for the expertise, skill and beauty of everyday things.

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