Maybe this silly story appeals to me because I have one kid in college and another one contemplating a liberal arts major when she enters college next year. Or maybe it's just because Rick Scott strikes me as someone who views liberal arts as something alien and useless. Whatever it is, his recent statements about how kids who go to college shouldn't choose a liberal arts degree just prove he's pretty alien and useless to me.
In an interview with the Sarasota Herald Tribune, Scott outlined what he plans to do to Florida state universities:
Scott said Monday that he hopes to shift more funding to science, technology, engineering and math departments, the so-called “STEM” disciplines. The big losers: Programs like psychology and anthropology and potentially schools like New College in Sarasota that emphasize a liberal arts curriculum.
Then he repeated that refrain Tuesday, while speaking to a business group in Tallahassee, but with some embellishment.
“I got accused of not liking anthropologists the other day,” Scott said. “But just think about it, how many more jobs do think there are for anthropologists in the state?
“Do you want to use your tax dollars to educate more people who can’t get jobs in anthropology? I don’t. I want to make sure that we spend our dollars where people can get jobs when they get out.”
Turning to a veteran Tallahassee reporter, Scott also questioned the value of a degree in journalism.
“There’s a lot of jobs in journalism?” Scott rhetorically asked the reporter. “No, it’s tough.”
Ok. Anthropologists are out. Check. Journalism is out. Check. What's in? Well, according to Scott, more science and technology degrees, because not enough students choose those majors. And to that end, he would push funding away from liberal arts and into those areas.
Via Mother Jones, an argument for why Scott's thinking is so intellectually dishonest:
But if Scott thinks that state colleges should only offer free-market-friendly majors, he's been sleeping in class. First, he ignores a host of recent research that shows college majors don't matter as much in graduates' long-term earning power as is often assumed. Second, "soft" subjects like anthropology (and philosophy, and history, and psychology, and English) serve their students pretty darn well: Take a look at the surprising list of notable Americans who majored in them... including Dubya, Carly Fiorina, Clarence Thomas, Billy Graham, and Ronald Reagan. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better marketer or brand specialist than an anthro major.
It's more likely that the real reason is buried deeper in the Mother Jones piece. At least, that's my theory:
That, in the end, is perhaps why Scott's really out to kill anthropology and the liberal arts: As opposed to conservative-friendly disciplines like economics and business management, liberal arts produce more culturally aware and progressive citizens, inclined to challenge ossified social conventions and injustices. Eliminate cultural and social sciences from public colleges, and you'll ultimately produce fewer community organizers, poets, and critics; you'll probably churn out more Rotarians, Junior Leaguers, and Republican donors.
Not that science, math, technology and other market-friendly majors don't produce socially aware people. I'm sure they do. But in Rick Scott's weird little mind, those people are easier to mold in the conservative image than students trained to think critically and empathetically.