Fareed Zakaria: STEM and the Liberal Arts Were a Power Couple

Author Since: Mar 11, 2019

  1. All I’m saying is that as an engineering major I’m required to take 6 hours of humanities, 6 hours of history/political science, 6 hours of English, and either sociology or psychology. If you do the math that’s 21 hours almost two full time semesters of liberal arts. Why should I have to do this while liberal arts majors only have to retake high school algebra?

  2. It's like liberal arts and humanities are best when you learn them on your own and not in college, at least that's what I take from experience. I took a semester of liberal arts at a community college and quit because, even though I didn't regret going to see what it was like, I felt that I could do better to study on my own. I decided that I would go to college only if it was for something very specific and could only be learned there as well as having enough money not to go into debt and having enough skill writing essays while going in.

  3. Absolutely right.
    I am currently studying for a postgraduate Physics Degree.
    I can see the enormous value of an education in History, English, Philosophy etc.
    I don't know how human civilisation could possibly make any progress without my friends on the other side of campus.
    Evidently I love Physics and see the enormous value of STEM, that's why I've put myself in many thousands of debt to get myself an education in it.
    But the idea that these things are the only things of value?
    The idea that our professional economy, culture, society and civilisation have nothing to learn from the past?
    Nothing to learn from thousands of years of rigorous, skeptical, doubting, probing western philosophy?
    Nothing to learn from Literature, or Music or Art? I mean; why does art even exist if not to educate us about the human condition?

    Of course the questions of "how does thermodynamics work" and "why do electric circuits work in the way they do" etc. are beautiful, profound and staggeringly important.
    But so are the questions of, what is good?
    What is right?
    What are our responsibilities to one another?
    Has a problem like this happened before in the history of humanity?
    How did we stumble through it then?
    What is true?
    What is noble?
    What is pure?
    What is beautiful?
    We can never, ever fall into the terrible trap of thinking that we've answered them decisively.
    That we should abandon the study of the furthering of human civilisation.
    No!
    The conversation around these questions must always go on.
    To say that STEM is the only fragment of this jigsaw of intellectual investigation worth pursuing?
    For God's sake!
    Of course not!

  4. The internet makes available a practically endless supply of information, yet many people think in sound bites provided by agenda-driven media sources…without any contemplation beyond initial, emotional reaction.  I love the idea of an education that places specific emphasis on analytical thought, so people can start weeding out, rather than embracing, the exploitation and promotion of ignorance and laziness.

    P.S. To his earlier point, in ancient Greece, Music (one of the fundamental aspects of a Liberal Arts education) was actually taught as a Science and highly regarded for its mathematical aspects.

  5. Here in Pakistan we had abandoned the liberal arts long ago. Everybody is going with science(STEM). Do you know what happen ??? We are all Masters, Doctors, Engineers and Science graduates without having any practical experience of real life world. Every one is high achievers in Maths, Science, Engineering and technology without producing and designing anything, doing the job of technicians and mechanics who are neither liberal artist nor science graduates. Even nobody knows what is Art??We can not develop in science without Art first.

  6. Years ago I was at Fairfield. The Jesuit educational tradition was well established. We had many requirements in philosophy, theology, in addition to other areas.  I will always value what I learned, but decades later in a very different world some of the courses seem naive. Still, the discipline and the methodology of how to think remain. The liberal arts education's value transcends content  and is best realized in how it is applied in a changing world.

  7. The difference between STEM and Liberal Arts is the fact that one has intrinsic, immutable, undeniable truths that can be found through testing and reason.

    If you think that's the latter, then I've got some bad news for you.

  8. I wasn't a liberal arts major. But, when I studied Confucius, I thought he was an absolute moron. Was I the only one?

  9. Liberal arts degrees are worthless now a days, and should be. I go to a liberal arts school where 90% of the kids are some type of liberal arts degree. However I am part of the other program that fits the other 10% (Professional Accounting CPA major, includes your BS and graduate courses needed to take the CPA exam in NY state). 

    Anyways, these liberal arts kids, for the most part, will not be working in their chosen field once they graduate because there is a smaller demand  for their jobs than there is a supply by a large margin. The reason for this is that liberal arts classes are extremely easy when compared to something like my accounting/auditing classes. This is from my own personal experience, having to take some electives in liberal arts in my first years of college. 

    THE POINT:
    Liberal arts are 90% useless. We need more specializations that are math/science based. The free market related to career acquisition in America shows us this. I don't really have a solution for this problem because most people are inherently lazy/average and do not want to put the hard work it takes to specialize into math/science majors. So I guess there really is no solution unless you guys can think of one

  10. Ahahahahaha, no. Liberal education is useless. Its a hobby. Stop treating it as a science, or as a job. 
    Economy does not work on rainbows and happy feelings. It works on STEM. The world doesnt work on hobbies, economies and societies dont work on hobbies. We all have hobbies, but its really sheltered and stupid of you to think you can skip the job part you need to do before you can get to your hobby part. Studying anything but STEM (and a few other economically viable things) is useless, unless you were born as a billionaire or something.

  11. Confucius was not Aristotle's contemporary, That honour goes to Diogenes, who's greater understanding of the simple things gave Aristotle a frame to work from, they studied together. And it was Alexander the great who on hearing about Diogenes greatness traveled back across his expanding kingdom to meet Diogenes. When he met Diogenes who was sat in the street, he asked "what can do for you Diogenes" , Diogenes replied "you can stand out of my sunlight"..

  12. A key problem now is that college education has now become career training. That's for vocational schools(we need more)/ Education should be more about expanding your mind and broadening your thoughts. Methods of thinking vs. rote learning.stream of facts. I'm a physics major math minor with a large amount of music coursework(old major). I see the value of both. Creativity actually helps stem majors.

  13. In today's world we have the internet and libraries to provide an infinite source of liberal arts education. Liberal arts education sure made sense back in the old days because book were expensive, and we didn't have a huge database of files where you can get every literary work for free. It makes far less sense now to study most liberal arts majors because you can read up on anything you want related to it now for free. Anyone can learn English, History, Literature, etc. on their own, but how many people can learn Mathematics, Physics, Computer Science and Electrical Engineering without being taught by a professional?

    Middle school mathematics eludes most U.S. students. How would they ever move to Precalculus with that poor level of understanding? Is it really that important that someone know all the works of Shakespeare instead of knowing something as simple as calculating compund interest to know how terrible of a loan you signed up for to pay for your crappy degree?

    Meanwhile, the biggest problems of our time are the fact that scientifically illiterate morons are ruining the world for people with their phony religions and pseudoscience. I think a STEM education is far more useful now just to curb this trend of people using feelings and rhetoric to argue a point rather than bothering to provide any evidence. The less liberal arts majors running around trying to tell me homeopathy works, GMOs are "Frankenfoods" and that the U.S. has "rape culture" the better I say.

  14. I agree that STEM and Liberal Arts really shouldn't be disputed as much as they are. There shouldn't be this "war" between the two. Broad based education is key for a diverse and adaptable labor force, not to mention a vibrant and intellectually curious civil society. 

    If you want to shun anyone, I wouldn't place a war between STEM and LA, but rather, think of all the Business majors. These majors are not intellectually curious at all, but rather, focus on how to extract the most money out of some entity. They are often the ones leaving without knowledge of the scientific method AND basic knowledge of the social sciences such as economics (and no, economics and business are not the same thing).

  15. American universities are little more than debtors' prisons nowadays. It's all about making a big investment and expecting to make a return on that investment. This is why liberal arts are shunned, because the U.S. is a country about climbing the economic food chain at the expense of everyone else, and there is no use for knowledge and growth, and you can't make any kind of return investment with the debts being handed out to students with liberal arts degrees. Hell since our corporate overlords took the economy and gave it a major railing from behind most majors are now inadequate for getting jobs, even some STEM ones, though they didn't get hit quite as hard. That STEM fields are looked highly upon more because they are more likely to get you a job more than because of the other benefits and skills they provide should tell you something.

    As long as Reaganites have their stranglehold on education and, well, everything else in this country we will continue to be the land of anti-intellectuals (no wonder we are falling so far behind the rest of the first world) and a college education is there purely for profit motive and little else.

  16. The problem with a liberal education is it has became a little too liberal. I got 3 BS in physics math and astronomy, but i still had two writting components, 6 hours of upper division liberal art classes, plus symbolic logic from the philosophy department, as well as the same history ,government, engish lit and composition that every liberal art student needs. But most liberal art students can get away with college algebra(in fact they offered basic math class as a substitute for this) maybe only one remedial science class, like intro astronomy for non major or science ideas. I feel the problem for the average liberal art major today is when they get out college, they don't understand basic sciences or scientific method, or basic math like statistics. Most of them complain they don't need to know these things, and yet anti vaxers and climate deniers with liberal art backgrounds go out into the world getting jobs like lawyers/politicians journalist entertainers, and wonder why our country is falling behind.

  17. Lol yes. Please keep rationalizing your worthless degrees in the social sciences while you work at starbucks.

  18. Great guy! Like a lot of his work. Obviously very intelligent.
    I do have to disagree with some of his stances on Islam. Watch him on bill maher.

  19. STEM individuals power the economy i think throughout history they have never numbered more than10% of a given population now for the first time STEM cannot keep up  with modern requirements fusion (we're too dumb) hydrogen (physics as we understand it just says HELL no) and its looking like the inevitable fall could happen anytime now   and to top it all off it  seems that critical thinking has been removed from the current crop   STEM  individuals because they see their education as an investment "cramming for the test" is a common tactic now  as grades are everything nowadays as the cost of college is so high.

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