POLL: Humanities major graduates as successful as STEM grads

One university satellite campus wants to get rid of humanities majors like English and history; and instead expand areas such as marketing, management, graphic design and computer information systems.

The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point is reportedly discussing a plan to eliminate 13 majors including English, philosophy, history and Spanish. 

But, local universities say humanities major graduate are quite successful.

University of St. Thomas History Professor Dr. Dominic Aquila (a-quil-uh) said upon graduation, humanities major's starting salaries are just below business majors salaries.

Rice University Dean of School of Humanities, Kathleen Canning, said publications like The Economist and Forbes show humanists are not only sought out by Silicon Valley startups and other business.

“Partly because of their strong critical skills and their excellent communicative skills and capacity for team work,” said Canning.

Aquila said a college degree, by its very nature, should cover a broad range of subjects.

“If for example you’re a history major, you most certainly should be conversant with the trends in the sciences and above all, have some fluency in mathematics,” said Aquila. “If you’re a history major, for example, you should be looking to take a course in the history of science. If you’re an English major, you should be conversant with, let’s say, foreign languages.”

He added that history, English or philosophy majors need to be knowledgeable about science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) to see emerging trends and how to strategically fit into that world.

Aquila said a college degree, by its very nature, should cover a broad range of subjects. And, that every single student, irrespective of their major, should know how to use the latest technology and with computers.

Canning said they offer new connectivity to other disciplines.

“There’s a growing field of medical humanities across the country. Incorporate the digital dimensions into their course classrooms,” said Canning.

She said humanities need to continue to grow and advance their own repertoire of teaching, as well.

Canning added that the Wisconsin governor's vision of liberal arts education not shared widely among administrators or faculty at the University of Wisconsin campuses.

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