Image: Part of a graduation lineup.

Why liberal arts and the humanities are as important as engineering

We learned that though a degree made a big difference in the success of an entrepreneur, the field it was in and the school that it was from were not significant factors. YouTube chief executive Susan Wojcicki, for instance, majored in history and literature; Slack founder Stewart Butterfield in English; Airbnb founder Brian Chesky in the fine arts. And, in China, Alibaba chief executive Jack Ma has a bachelor’s in English. Steve Jobs…

Uneasy Lies the Head — Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power

John Stubbs reviews Stephen Grenblatt’s Tyrant: Shakespeare on Power The psychology and spectacle of villainy and the intoxicating nature of power clearly preoccupied Shakespeare. The grandeur, amoral freedom of action and sheer theatrical potential of tyrants must have moved and excited him. The case of a confirmed murderous dictator, after all, especially one with the charisma, merciless intelligence and twisted charm Shakespeare bestows on Richard III, gave unequalled scope for…

“for every cliché of a barista or bartender with a liberal arts degree, there were ten with a degree in business.”

This story offers evidence to challenge the stereotype that under employed humanities majors are stuck working in service jobs years after graduation. STEM jobs are indeed the most marketable, but a recent study found  that after five years, business, health professions, education and psychology make up far more of the underemployed graduates than English or foreign languages. If you believe the Burning Glass data, those four majors alone – business,…

What’s Wrong With Being From the South? Just Ask an Academic in the North

As an American studying in Toronto during the Clinton administration, I encountered some non-negligible anti-American bias. I learned to pronounce the last letter of the alphabet “zed” when I was spelling my name. When I sang “ahh-men” in a church choir, the music director stopped the rehearsal to express his surprise that I hadn’t sung “aay-men.” A student in an American literature class accused me of being racist for suggesting…

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STEM Education Won’t Solve the World’s Problems

I love STEM. My SAT score for math was exactly the same as verbal. When I was in grad school, struggling with Sausserian semiotics and Beowulf in the original Old English, I taught myself C++, Turbo Pascal, and Java for fun. For some project I was coding I learned how to do 3D matrix transformations so that I could simulate light bouncing off of a solid surface. I had part-time…