S.T.E.M degrees of seperation, Rick Scott’s assualt on the arts

S.T.E.M degrees of seperation, Rick Scott's assualt on the arts

C.W. Griffin

Meng Xu is working on a degree in Biochemistry at FIU, which falls under STEM education. The Florida legislature will likely consider discounting tuition for STEM-subject technology careers.

Sometime last year, Florida Governor Rick Scott, whose approval rating in virtually every statewide poll is the lowest of any governor since the birth of Florida after Ponce de Leon landed here 500 years ago, proposed that public colleges and universities, throughout Florida, charge lower tuition for students who earn STEM-related (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) degrees and higher tuition for students who major in the humanities (art, foreign languages, literature, English composition, music, economics, ethics, anthropology, and philosophy).

Governor Scott’s rationale is that STEM-related degrees would yield more job security and higher wages.

The passage of House Bill 7135 includes recommendations, which would substantially reduce the number of general education courses, including courses in the humanities, students would be required to complete.

In fact, I, along with other colleagues of mine, college-wide, recently received a multi-page packet requesting feedback on these proposed recommendations. After all, according to Governor Scott, what on earth would anyone do with a degree in anthropology or philosophy?

Such disciplines have no value whatsoever, and they certainly would never yield enough of an income to pay your mortgage much less your monthly water bill. Besides, what real job would you ever be able to secure?

House Bill 7135 is about the most objectionable law the Florida legislature has ever passed! It is also illogical, and does not demonstrate a true understanding of what I learned about studia humanitatis  (the study of the humanities) as a graduate student at one of Europe’s premier universities decades ago.

Here is precisely why I think this proposed house bill should be kicked to the curb and abandoned forever: The study of the humanities is the key to a full and meaningful life.

Knowledge of diverse cultures, for example, as well as exposure to diverse points-of-view will eventually result in the birth of global citizens who are politically engaged. This means that a broader spectrum of our population will demonstrate a higher degree of tolerance and altruism as well as a deeper commitment to civility.

The counter-opposites of these virtuous qualities are ignorance and horrific acts of violence about which the families of the recent Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Connecticut experienced. There are other more viable options.

The study of the humanities will also help nurture communication and work with others. Isn’t communication in both its written and verbal forms necessary for success in both life and work?

Building and maintaining life-long relationships, between and among others, requires effective communication and writing skills. This goes far beyond the rather robotic and cliché-like language promoted, in its diverse forms, by technology.

In other words, reading the ancient classical literary works and speeches of Greek and Roman scholars may inspire us to broaden our own vocabulary and use of language and to improve our writing skills. These important qualities are essential to an ongoing dialogue, debate, and discussion of diverse issues of import.

Who knows where more effective communication might lead? We might, in fact, even discover our own unique form of creativity, which could positively affect others and change the world forever.

This is precisely why I am radically opposed to the implementation of House Bill 7135. Students enrolled in public colleges and universities, in Florida and elsewhere, should be required to complete more general education and humanities courses. Are you on my page?

John Scolaro is a professor of humanities at Valencia College.