gorcee wrote:The humanities provide us with a valuable contribution to society, but in the end, our cities and towns can continue to operate if no new sculptures are commissioned next year. The same cannot be said when it comes to infrastructure and logistics.
Sure, next year. But if there was no sculpture or art or cultural production at all
, I strongly suspect that productivity would be far, far lower than it is today. All the people who actually do the day-to-day work in a society need something to make their lives worthwhile, and STEM graduates are rarely the ones providing those things.
I'm in complete agreement with you, which, if you actually read my post, you'd see. Notice how I said "next year" and not "for time immemorial." I'm really glad that you picked up on that phrase, and then completely missed the point.
My point is that STEM provides, in general, immediate and irreplaceable functionality in society. In a crisis, the humanities can wait. Of course, they cannot wait indefinitely.
A cheap analogy is that if you're underemployed and have only $500 to spend on your car, do you fix the transmission or install a stereo? STEM is the transmission, humanities are the stereo. Don't take this analogy too far. It's merely meant to illustrate the general point I was trying to make, not the overall efficacy of the entire body of humanities majors.
I do disagree that STEM graduates are rarely the ones producing those things. Most English majors don't become career novelists. Most art majors don't become career painters. Perhaps, they go on to work in the related industries: gallery operation, copywriting, whatever. But if your criteria for saying "rarely do STEM majors go on to create life-enriching things" is that rarely do engineers become sculptors or painters, I'd say then that rarely do humanities majors do the same.
I disagree in principle that STEM majors don't contribute to that, though. Engineers design TVs and sound systems and golf clubs and automobiles (go ahead, tell me that the automobile isn't art). These are all things that make our lives better, just as a painting by Dali or a poem by Tennyson make our lives better.
@doogly: I thought my post was fairly reasonable. If you think I was being an idiot, let me know why. If you think that I was implying that humanities majors are only good for operating government offices, I apologize, that's not what I meant. What I meant was that the world cannot operate for lack of humanities majors. Anecdote time: a good friend of mine works for a State gov't in a welfare-to-work program. She was a Anthro/Sociology major, and although she's not producing critical reviews of sociological efforts, her education does make her more compassionate and understanding (both economically and emotionally) of the socioeconomic situation of the people she counsels, and she excels at her job. Certainly, a mechanical engineer would not be capable of doing what she does.
Jahoclave wrote:@Gorcee: You know, not all of a major is about what knowledge you know, but also about developing a fundamental skillset. And, really, given the current economic crises, finding people working dead end jobs they're overqualified for isn't hard. And quite frankly, most people with a college degree can do office work and even management. Now, I wonder what one of the most prevalent job types are in this country? You know where a good amount of engineers end up in their careers? Not doing engineering.
Engineers not doing engineering are not called engineers. They're called "former Engineering majors." Likewise, Engineering students are not engineers. They are students.
Now you can claim that most graduated engineering students working in engineering "aren't doing engineering," but I call bullshit on that. Actual, real world engineering bears little in common with what you do in school. There's an old story about a company that hired a bright young engineer straight out of college. There he was, with his 4.0 GPA, and he showed up to the office on his first day and said, "here I am, send me your differential equations to be solved!"
What you learn in college for engineering is essentially just a bunch of how to apply facts to come up with solutions to problems. All of what you learn in engineering school is designed to develop this mentality and base it on a sound foundation of theory. Engineering students spend their nights doing things like drawing Bode plots by hand. This is an important thing to learn, even if you'll never do it again for the rest of your career.
The funny thing is, Jahoclave, that despite the fact that there are lots of people overqualified for their work due to the economy, the real picture is somewhat more complicated. Actually, at various points of the economic crisis, both job openings AND unemployment went up. And what were those job openings in? STEM.http://www.csmonitor.com/Business/2011/0304/Jobs-go-unfilled-despite-high-unemployment
While there are more than 25 job seekers for every open position in fields like construction, the exact inverse is true in technology, health and science-related jobs.
For computer science jobs and skilled health care practitioners, there were just over three ads for every job seeker in February. For life sciences jobs like medical science researchers and chemists, the ratio was 2 to 1.
EDIT (to merge successive posts):
gmalivuk wrote:Yeah. I'll believe "video games" as soon as someone gets me a list of popular video games that didn't have any artists or writers on staff.
No. You said,
All the people who actually do the day-to-day work in a society need something to make their lives worthwhile, and STEM graduates are rarely the ones providing those things.
You made no claim of exclusivity. Video games can exist without programmers about as well as they can exist without artists and writers. For video games, STEM graduates produce a fair share of the creation effort. For instance, at the upcoming PAXDev, there are (so far) 8 scheduled panels under the Art discipline, and 9 under the Programming discipline. http://dev.paxsite.com/schedule_disc.php