STEM may be the future—but liberal arts are timeless

The main reading room of The New York Public Library is pictured December 14, 2004. The New York Public Library is among the libraries that announced on December 13, 2004 that they are partnering with Internet search engine Google Inc, to offer a collection of its public domain books, which will be scanned in their entirety and made available for free to the public online. Users will be able to search and browse the full text of these works. Google will begin scanning millions of books from Oxford University, Harvard University, Stanford University, The University of Michigan and the New York Public Library beginning in 2005.

Recently I was part of a dinner conversation attended by a range of leaders in the tech world, from people running incubators and accelerators to ad agencies and design studios. The guest list included representatives from Facebook, Grand Central Tech, BetaWorks, IDEO, and Ipsos.

But despite their titles and technical nature, this wasn’t a crowd of computer-science majors and engineering minors: Every person invited to this dinner happened to have a liberal-arts degree.

Many tech-sector folk have made arguments about the irrelevance of liberal-arts education. According to the late director of the Cato Institute, Andrew J. Coulson, “The traditional association of liberal-arts education and four-year colleges was already becoming an anachronism before the rise of the World Wide Web. It is now a crumbling fossil.” During the Republican primaries, candidate Marco Rubio falsely stated that welders make more money than philosophers. And tech investor Marc Andreessen thinks that English majors will just “end up working in a shoe store.”

But there may be a correlation between professional success in the new STEM-focused economy and training in the liberal arts.

Please Continue @ Quartz

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