A Broader Education

In a world of growing STEM careers, it is important to remember that careers in the humanities still exist.


photo by Jess Daninhirsch

A stack of various classic literature books to depict the humanities resources provided to students but not utilized.

Sreeja Yellapragada, Staff Writer

Art, history, English, music, anthropology, philosophy. These are all fields that many are passionate about but only a few decide to pursue in college. In the era of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) finding a future humanities major is quite rare. In fact, in the past couple of years, English majors saw a decrease of 22% while STEM bachelor’s degrees saw an increase of 62%. For a couple of decades now, institutions have been pushing STEM fields to the younger generations; however, the issue really arose when the STEM majors started to overtake the humanities. 

Many students choose STEM majors for justifiable reasons. Often they are thinking far into the future and are attracted to the job security that STEM offers. Not only do degrees in any STEM field bring more job opportunities, but they usually tend to receive a higher post-graduation pay. As the world becomes more and more digitalized, it makes sense to ride the STEM wave with everyone else. 

But while the benefits of being a STEM major may be alluring, the decline in humanities can be harmful. Humanities teach core lessons of life that STEM subjects do not cover. Studying literature helps develop critical reasoning skills and analytical thinking and can improve skills in speech and comprehension, which are essential in the job market. Through the study of anthropology and philosophy, learning how humans think and behave can allow engineers to build better artificially intelligent robots. 

The humanities encompass the past, present, and future. They speak to aspects of the human race that are timeless and of ongoing relevance. Whereas the STEM fields are ever-changing, with new discoveries being made and old ones becoming outdated, skills in observing and questioning our world will forever be relevant.

But the choice between the humanities and STEM need not be binary.

Complementing a STEM major with a few humanities classes can be of enormous benefit. For example, learning a new language can open up a whole new culture, and studying philosophy allows for one to understand the entire scope of the society in which they live. While problem solving is one of the most essential aspects of STEM, learning how to convey our ideas and understand the ideas of others is best mastered through a humanities education.

Of course, with the predominance of Silicon Valley and Wall Street, pursuing a career path that diverges from STEM can be daunting. However, essential jobs done all around us require a humanities degree. From teaching positions to journalism, social work, and law to jobs in museums and theaters, a degree in the humanities can be a distinct advantage, largely because those fields teach empathy. Especially in a world surrounded by technology, making sure we aren’t losing touch with our essential humanity is vital. 

If the ultimate goal of education is to nurture all parts of ourselves and grow into the people we are, we would be fooolish to overlook the humanities.