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How do you quantify the importance of a major compared to another? Certainly poets, historians, artists, and writers have more than a monetary importance in society. How do you measure the inspiration a great writer generates? How do you objectively compare the societal benefit of a mathematician versus a historian so that you can mete their funding accordingly?

I see a lot of "bootstraps" comments in the tech field— specifically about the liberal arts— and it's a shame. I wouldn't be in this field if it weren't for some of those "worthless" degrees like English (great writing helps the learning process) and Design (people are attracted to good-looking websites).

My apologies if I got a little ranty. It just irks me to see someone putting down another field of study as though they're a drain on society.




If you push on the supply side without pulling on the demand side, you're going to squash a lot of liberal arts majors against the wall. As a society, we are probably employing more academics than ever: more historians, more philosophers, more classicists, more literature critics. But we are producing even more graduates and graduate students who there are fundamentally not enough positions for, later on up the pipeline. And the typical English BA who works as a barista doesn't necessarily produce lots of poetry or anything on their free time.

Poets and writers today, and throughout time, live unique, often impoverished existences without necessarily being part of an academic establishment or having relevant education. Or they make tons of money selling dramatic scripts to the masses. If Shakespeare were alive today he'd be a screenwriter.


How do you objectively compare the societal benefit of a mathematician versus a historian so that you can mete their funding accordingly?

From the article:The government will soon start evaluating college majors by their employment rates, downsizing or cutting those studies in which less than 60% of graduates fail for two consecutive years to find work.

Setting aside the question of whether that is a particularly good method, I'd like to suggest that it's at least more objective and quantifiable than just presuming that a degree in any given subject is equally the cause of or prerequisite to greatness in a given field, and therefore of equal value. Great art doesn't depend on art degrees to the same extent that great science depends on science degrees.


The problem surely is that your evaluating by employment rates right now , this will not necessarily be so in the future and the govt probably isn't the best at predicting future demand. Geography is also a factor here.

What you risk doing is grossly over subscribing 'boom' fields and driving down salaries of competent people within those fields.




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