Staff writer comments on how the STEM world threatens the humanities

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By Grace Lewis || Staff Writer

The generation currently in college — those born somewhere in the range of mid to late 1990’s to maybe the very early 2000’s — are in a bizarre spot. We are on the cusp; not quite millennials with their trends and constant battle against the baby boom generation, but also we are too old to be fully considered Generation Z, with Tide-Pods and growing up around constant new technology. We know references from both generations and our lives were shaped by the same things. Growing up in a post-9/11 world filled with anxiety and brand new wars, we learned about the troubles of the adult world much younger than many other generations. Then hit the 2008 recession and all of the sudden people were out of jobs and not being able to provide for their families. The fear of 2008’s economic recession hit us like a truck, and we became obsessed with the idea of needing to make sure that we would never end up like those who had lost everything.

It is a known fact that STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) majors have been going up widely in popularity in the past decade. Currently 41% of college graduates have majors in STEM, while only 11% take up majors in the humanities (The Atlantic). These two different numbers have been going in the opposite direction for years, with humanities dwindling down so low to the point where many schools are attempting to spearhead their humanities programs in attempt to keep them alive. For instance, top schools like Stanford and those in the Ivy League recruit promising students who show interest in the humanities, encouraging them to apply.

But what explains this rise in field of STEM and decline in the humanities? We are convinced of the idea that majoring in a STEM field will lead to higher paid job opportunities, no matter if we like the field or not. Majoring in the humanities seemingly gives very few options and none of them seem to be highly well paid or in many cases respected. I, a projected American Studies major and a minor in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies, am trying to navigate what exactly I want to do in the world with my interests so deep set in history. I grew up in a family of medicine, with both parents doctors and an older sister who plans also to go into the medical world.

Being interested in the humanities feels like being left out to dry. The anxiety that was built from watching the dangers of The Recession sank deep into our subconscious and we became determined to go into professions that would protect our financial stability. STEM majors are on the rise, but the interest in the humanities does not die, just simply those who are interested in the humanities decide to major in STEM in order to seemingly secure a financial future. I do not want it to seem like I dislike STEM majors, I simply encourage our age group to learn and participate in the activities and fields that we are interested in. Do not be afraid of the uncertainty of whatever is to come. There is a danger of being a humanities major in a STEM based world, but in all honesty, that’s half the fun.

First-Year Grace Lewis is a Staff Writer, her email is glewis@fandm.edu

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