One question that is commonly asked of people who pursue a career in the humanities (like philosophy, literature, history and the like) is, “But what are you going to do for a living?” Even former President Barack Obama once ridiculed those following an art history career. These concerns are even more amplified in the case of first generation college students whose parents often- times expect them to follow more conventional careers, such as medicine, law or engineering.
Also, in the last few years there has been great hype about the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) disciplines as the only majors worth pursuing because their applicability to the modern world. That push has come from politicians – particularly on the right – who advance the idea that STEM graduates are the only ones who could obtain professional careers. In fact, many liberal arts colleges are add- ing pre-professional programs to their offerings. Other institutions are going in the other direction. The University of Wisconsin Stevens Point is eliminating many programs, mostly in the liberal arts. But are either of these approaches necessary or the correct response?