Liberal Arts Educations Are Wicked Important.

There is a move afoot – it seems – by many in the workforce world to downgrade the value of a liberal arts college education in favor of a certificate or credential that leads to employment. The argument goes something like this, “Why be weighed down with debt by earning a degree that doesn’t translate immediately into a job, when learning a skill with real world application is less expensive and employment is immediate.”

It is one of those arguments that on the surface makes sense, but I don’t buy it and it seems to ignore some important data.

As recently as 2014 US News and World Report reported that liberal arts degree job prospects had improved and that these degree holders were the preferred management candidates due to their vast problem solving skills. See that story at

There is little doubt that STEM degree (those in science, technology, engineering and math) are important and provide our nation with the hard skills we need in the global marketplace, there is also no doubt for example, that America’s dominance in the multi-billion dollar arts and entertainment industry requires the non-STEM degree holders.

It’s a balance and yet there is a throw out the baby with the bathwater attitude toward it all. Let’s eschew literature, music, history, philosophy, and art in favor of engineering many say because they can’t see the cause and effect between arts and $$$$. It’s all quite sad.

I once attended a US Army school called Personnel Management for Executives. In one of the segments, management consultant Harvey J. Coleman postulated that those in strict technical disciplines could only rise so high in any large organization because they tend to be less rounded and those with better communication and general skills tended to rise higher because of their breadth of education. I think it is like that for STEM folks versus liberal arts folks.

It is the generalist – I think – that sees the world for all its complexities and is able to leverage resources to solve complex problems.

I am avoiding a big discussion about art for art’s sake, because it would diffuse my point about the value of liberal arts in the workplace.

I guess that’s it for now.


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