OPINION: Stop bashing the liberal arts

(Illustration by Savannah Thaemert | The Collegian)

So often in today’s society, students pursuing any type of arts degree are told they should have something to fall back on – just in case it doesn’t work out for them. The same is almost never said to someone studying to become a nurse or engineer.

The wide misconception that people with a liberal arts degree will not be as successful as those with a professional degree is discussed in the Federalist’s January 2014 article, “This College Professor Has A Message For Liberal Arts Majors.”

“It is easier to envision that sort of dynamic playing out when your student is a nursing or business major, than it is when the young person wants to major in English,” author Hunter Baker said in the article. “The problem with this view is that it gives too much credit to the professional fields and not enough to the liberal arts.”

Many of the same sentiments are shared among others, including writer for Forbes magazine Vivek Ranadivé.

Even with two degrees from Massachusetts Institute of Technology and a Harvard MBA, Ranadivé said in his article “A Liberal Arts Degree is More Valuable than Learning Any Trade,” that he believes a liberal arts degree is an important asset.

“The people who will succeed in more expensive labor markets like the U.S. will be those who can think creatively and generate the ideas that will propel economic growth,” Ranadivé said. “Such skills are best fostered in a traditional liberal arts environment.”

Not only are skills obtained through a liberal arts degree important for interpreting things differently in the workplace, but they also give meaning to life.

For her Huffington Post article, titled, “The Value and Importance of the Arts and the Humanities in Education and Life,” Barbara Ernst Prey interviewed Mitchell B. Reiss, the president of Washington College, about the humanities and arts.

“I’ve heard biographer and journalist Walter Isaacson say that science can give us empirical facts and try to tie them together with theories, but it’s the humanists and the artists who turn them into narratives with moral, emotional and spiritual meanings,” Reiss said. “He’s right, of course. Art gives meaning to the data science provides.”

Art in any form – whether it is theater, music, painting, writing or any other kind – is a valid and quite important part of society. Art unites us in ways that nothing else can. It can break down social, economic and cultural barriers. People do not have to be speaking the same language to appreciate an art gallery or a theater show.

So the next time you start criticizing someone’s choice to study the liberal arts, you should think twice and remember what the world would be like without them: bleak.

Rachel Tucker is a junior in mass communications.