The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

The Student News Site of Quinnipiac University

The Quinnipiac Chronicle

Challenging educational perceptions: Why humanities matter just as much as STEM

Peyton McKenzie

If you asked yourself what some of the most important careers are, what comes to mind? Doctors, surgeons, nurses, scientists and engineers may be at the top of that list. But why not teachers, writers, authors, journalists or artists?

As someone who has always been terrible at math and science, careers in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) were never really an option for me. But as I grew up, the only professions I ever heard about were the ones that required years of medical school.

While jobs in STEM are important, I feel as though the humanities are severely underrated and underrepresented. Without English, nobody would know how to read, write or communicate, three essential skills needed to perform those jobs in STEM.

Fewer students are earning degrees in humanities disciplines, even though employment and earnings are increasing, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

Even though I hate math and science, I can understand the importance of taking classes under these subjects. STEM students should feel the same about their required humanities classes.

I believe that Quinnipiac’s University Curriculum requirements are beneficial, because they ensure that students are exploring all areas of interest and not just the ones that pertain to their major.

Subjects that fall under humanities, such as literature, history, philosophy, anthropology, geography and sociology “refine and reassure career perspectives alongside an in-depth understanding of the world in historical, creative and philosophical senses,” according to Quinnipiac University.

These subjects teach us imperative skills like critical thinking, communication, questioning and reasoning. With these abilities, we are able to form strong opinions, defend ideas and arguments and foster creativity.

However, these disciplines seem to be falling through the cracks due to issues with credibility.

The “issue of credibility” means that people think humanities are overly opinionated and political, leading to a lack of public trust, per The Washington Post.

“The public doesn’t seem to trust that we are engaging in real, methodical scholarly inquiry — or, at least, that such inquiries amount to much more than informed or pretentious opinion-making.” Over half of Americans believe that “humanities attract people who are somewhat pretentious and elitist,” according to a survey taken by the American Academy of Arts and Science.

I think that couldn’t be farther from the truth.

As someone who has studied humanities my whole life, I believe that they encourage people to think outside the box and to build their own ideas. The humanities push people to stay in touch with reality and the issues of the current world, which may be more necessary than ever.

I didn’t know what I wanted to pursue until my sophomore year of high school, when I took a class on journalism. I instantly fell in love with print journalism and writing about current events.

With the strong push and advocacy for STEM professions, I didn’t even know what journalism was up until that point.

Also, the fact that the outcome of studying disciplines in humanities are not easily measurable can often drive students away. This causes difficulties when demonstrating the impact that liberal arts has.

With society’s heavy emphasis on economic prosperity and productivity, choosing what makes you happy over what’s logical can be a difficult decision. The priority is wealth-oriented, and humanities careers may not seem like they can get you there.

Funding for education tends to be allocated based on perceived economic benefits. As a result of this, humanities programs are underinvested in compared to STEM, according to The New York Times.

On top of this, cultural trends and attitudes shape perceptions of these subjects. If success is tied to the STEM field, that is generally where students will flock, causing humanities to be overshadowed.

Living in an era of constant technological advancement can also put a strain on majoring in a humanities discipline. If science and technology are seen as more critical for the improvement of society, humanistic inquiry is overlooked.

Liberal arts are often deemed inferior and something that people who aren’t smart enough for STEM go to as a last resort. It’s never seen as a genuine interest someone might have.

I always wonder why people ask me what I plan to do with my bachelor’s degree in journalism. Due to the perspective that liberal arts degrees bring a lack of job opportunities, some parents shame their children for their desire to pursue disciplines in humanities. While the jobs may not pay as much compared to STEM, they are still purposeful and significant.

View Comments (2)
More to Discover
About the Contributors
Amanda Madera
Amanda Madera, Arts & Life Editor
Peyton McKenzie
Peyton McKenzie, Creative Director

Comments (2)

All The Quinnipiac Chronicle Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • M

    MohanNov 25, 2023 at 9:02 am

    Humanities offer complete perspective of life.Knowledge in Bagavat Geetha or Tao or Zen along with an idea on national and international affairs, culture and history will make your life really meaningful and enhance STEM for better humanity and understanding. If not, a soulless mechanism will govern us.

  • D

    Dr K BalasubramanianNov 25, 2023 at 7:27 am

    Brilliant analysis by Prof Amanda..
    Humanities, as the very appellation suggests, deal with the human psyche and that knowledge alone will help acquire the knowledge of STEM..