Book Chapter or Section
Higher Education has a problem with the arts. In a sector that is increasingly serving first-generation students who come from lower-income families, the pressure to provide a path towards secure, well-paid jobs is on. That is particularly true in this time and age of political pressure upon public institutions of higher education to emphasize STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) careers rather than the liberal arts (visual and performing arts, humanities, even social sciences) with the stereotype that if you become something like an artist or a poet you are more likely to end up being underemployed at best or a hippie at worst.
We know better, of course. Numerous studies including the annual surveys carried out by institutions like SNAAP (Strategic National Arts Alumni Project) tell us otherwise. And a multitude of books and articles have been written about the value of a liberal arts education. The problem largely resides with us, higher education administrators, who have for the most part failed to communicate effectively the value of the arts to a larger and more diverse audience. Some have proposed the idea of promoting STEAM (Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering and Mathematics). So, what can we do better to advocate the arts in colleges and universities beyond clever acronyms?
What follows is a summary of my own experiences as a faculty member and higher education administrator with a science background in creatively promoting the arts.