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Huffington Post publishes Higdon op-ed on liberal arts

President Leo I. Higdon Jr. 
November 17, 2011

President Leo I. Higdon Jr. has published an opinion piece in the Huffington Post in support of the social sciences and the liberal arts as practical courses of study for success in today's global economy.

Read the article.

The piece is in response to recent comments by Florida Governor Rick Scott. According to multiple media reports, Gov. Scott said in interviews earlier this fall that public funding should be shifted from certain majors, including anthropology and other social sciences, to what he considers practical majors with good employment prospects, including engineering, mathematics and the physical sciences (known as STEM fields).

"While I agree with the governor on the importance of study that prepares an individual for a fulfilling career - and that the STEM disciplines are certainly practical and fulfilling - this narrow definition of what qualifies as a practical major is seriously flawed," Higdon wrote.

Higdon argues that in today's rapidly changing global economy, problem-solving, critical thinking and communication skills have never been more crucial.

"Liberal arts students have those skills," Higdon wrote. "They learn how to think, not what to think. They learn to make connections and challenge the status quo. They acquire knowledge and experience that allows them to adapt easily to change. And they are able to learn about and master new concepts and issues in a very uncertain and challenging environment."

Higdon adds that anthropology, which was singled out by Gov. Scott in some of his comments, is a great example of an interdisciplinary course of study that teaches students particular skills that help them become successful in many different fields.

"Anthropology majors at Connecticut College, for example, have gone on to become city planners, corporate CEOs and vice presidents, business owners, lawyers, graphic artists, web developers, guidance counselors, teachers and professors, in addition to many others," he wrote.

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