Over the past several years, many universities across the world have been shifting their focus from the once popular liberal arts majors to the more technologically- and scientifically-inclined majors. Unfortunately, because of this change many schools have somewhat neglected their liberal arts programs and students, causing them to lose popularity and importance within the universities. This has been increasingly true as schools across the country have begun to eliminate some of these important liberal arts majors from their programs.
University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, a regional public university, is one of those schools. The college recently announced their proposal to eliminate 13 liberal arts majors from the campus in an attempt to “cope with a $4.5 million deficit over two years.” These majors include many common choices for students, including political science, history, English, philosophy and sociology, among others. In addition to these cuts, the college plans to expand and add academic programs that were previously smaller or unavailable at the campus. These new options are primarily more science-focused and include areas of study like chemical engineering, computer information systems, finance, marketing, environmental engineering and aquaculture/aquaponics, to name a few.
While this school is only one of eleven campuses in the University of Wisconsin family and other campuses will be keeping these majors, it is clear that this choice is severely limiting students as well as leaving the message that some majors or career paths are not as important as others. As to be expected, many students and faculty are upset by the news that the school will be dropping so many programs in favor of others that have “clear career pathways” and have planned protests to show the administration how this decision has been felt by the students.
At a school like the University of Connecticut, which holds similar values as University of Wisconsin, also being hailed as a large research university, this decision to cut so many majors is alarming. While it is clear that the future is being led more and more into a science- and technology-driven age, there are many things that could never be accomplished without people in these liberal arts majors. Where would we be without our country’s politicians and writers? Many of our scientific and technological advances themselves have been based first on philosophical beliefs. Our lives would be very different without the work of artists and other creative minds that have sprouted from these liberal arts majors. Without people in these majors to keep these fields growing, our future will be vastly different from what we want it to be.
At UConn, it is sometimes easy to slip into the mindset that most people here are science-driven and the liberal arts majors do not get enough attention; and that can often be true. However, stories like this one from the University of Wisconsin remind us that it is important to devote time to our liberal arts majors, because their futures and careers are just as important as the rest of ours.