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Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Aristotle’s Wrongful Death | Opinion - New York Times

Frank Bruni, Op-Ed columnist for The New York Times reports, "History is on the ebb. Philosophy is on the ropes. And comparative literature? Please. It’s an intellectual heirloom: cherished by those who can afford such baubles but disposable in the eyes of others."

Photo: Ben Wiseman, photograph by Hiroshi Higuchi/Photolibrary, via Getty Images

I’m talking about college majors, and talk about college majors is loud and contentious these days. There’s concern about whether schools are offering the right ones. There are questions about whether colleges should emphasize them at all. How does a deep dive into the classics abet a successful leap into the contemporary job market? Should an ambitious examination of English literature come at the cost of acquiring fluency in coding, digital marketing and the like?

Last Sunday The Chronicle of Higher Education published a special report that delved into this debate. One of the stories described what was happening at the flagship campus of the University of Illinois and at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts, casting these developments as different harbingers for higher education.

Illinois is pairing certain majors in the liberal arts – for example, anthropology and linguistics – with computer science. Assumption is doing away with a host of traditional majors in favor of new ones geared to practical skills. Goodbye, art history, geography and, yes, classics. Hello, data analytics, actuarial science and concentrations in physical and occupational therapy.

Assumption is hardly an outlier. Last year the University of Wisconsin at Superior announced that it was suspending nine majors, including sociology and political science, and warned that there might be additional cuts. The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point recently proposed dropping 13 majors, including philosophy and English, to make room for programs with “clear career pathways.”
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Source: New York Times


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