Eduardo Alvarez/Contributing Writer
“Medicine, law, business, engineering, these are noble pursuits and necessary to sustain life. But poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” These are the words said by Robin Williams’s character in the classic film, “Dead Poets Society.”
This idea sums up our need as a society to better finance our liberal arts majors, whose resources have suffered in comparison to STEM majors.
The budgets don’t lie. The National Endowment for the Arts, which the Trump administration intends to eventually cut, cost the federal government almost $153,000,000 in 2018. Meanwhile, the National Science Foundation, received a hefty check for $6.653 billion this year, according to their respective government websites.
The main reason for this is that majoring in any of the STEM programs usually leads to higher paying jobs. The economy seems to be better served by an engineer than by a thespian.
Needless to say, science majors are indispensable in any society, and should receive more funding than humanities. However, this doesn’t mean that current funding for liberal arts are satisfactory.
The arts promote social health. Countries who enjoy the finer things in life reap the results of better educated and enriched citizens. Sometimes, these things can’t be measured economically—nor should they—but they’re vitally important.
Studying literature, for example, gives us an insight into the experiences of peoples, tribes, and neighborhoods otherwise unknown to us. In a nation like the United States, profoundly divided along social and political lines, such activities may help to close the gaps.
Regardless of career field, these topics should be more vigorously placed in core classes at all educational levels: stimulating peoples’ creative floodgates.
Larger participation in these disciplines would also help to ideologically diversify the classrooms. One of the big complaints by those who would have studied theater or philosophy is that students and faculty lean disproportionately to certain school of thoughts.
But in order for that participation to increase, students have to feel that they’re not wasting their time and that their plan of study is being supported by the society they wish to give back to.
A country that has ten aircraft carriers can afford a few poets. Let’s start asking.
The opinions presented within this page do not represent the views of PantherNOW Editorial Board. These views are separate from editorials and reflect individual perspectives of contributing writers and/or members of the University community.
Photo by Thought Catalog on Unsplash.