Thursday, January 30, 2014

The Tyranny of the College Major

A recent article by J.W. Powell writing in The Atlantic takes on the value of general education for undergrads versus increased focus in specific majors.  While liberal arts colleges have traditionally downplayed the importance of intense focus on majors, it’s worth reminding ourselves of the value we offer, especially as there are increasing calls for more professionalization and immediate career outcomes for undergrads.  As the author points out: “General Education could serve an anti-provincialism function.  It could and should provide a basic two-year sequence in intellectual history including many of the best ideas human beings have had and the attacks against those ideas.  It could get students to step outside their major disciplines to do a minor (the equivalent of a half a year work) in a social science, a minor in a science, a minor in one of the humanities.  It should equip a graduate to deal with complex and urgent issues, which are not all addressed by their majors.”

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