Thursday, November 8, 2012

Humanities and Social Sciences under Fire in Florida

William A. Link

In the coming days Florida Governor Rick Scott’s Blue Ribbon Task Force on State Higher Education Reform will submit its final report. At its center are recommendations that state-determined “accountability” metrics shall determine university funding and that Florida adopt a new funding model of differential tuition rates that favor “strategic programs” (mostly science, technology, engineering, and math, STEM disciplines) also to be determined by the state legislature. Students will potentially pay much higher tuition rates for "non-strategic programs" (mostly humanities and social sciences).

A group of concerned faculty from the Department of History at the University of Florida has drafted a letter to Governor Rick Scott opposing the task force’s recommendations and calling on him to incorporate faculty input into reforms to the state university system.  (See the petition here.)

For more, see:

Jordan Weissmann, "Should Science Majors Pay Less for College Than Art Majors?" Atlantic, November 5, 2012

Elizabeth Popp Berman, "More STEM Majors Won’t Solve Higher Education’s Problems," Chronicle, November 1, 2012

William A. Link, Richard J. Milbauer Professor, History Department, University of Florida


hcr said...

I honestly thought this was a joke when I first saw references to it.

Governor Scott's "blue ribbon" panel has proposed that state tuition fees vary according to the student's chosen major.
Liberal arts aren't valuable-- in that they won't repay the state's investment in them-- so
the student who chooses, say, History, will have to pay more for a degree than someone
who chooses, say, Physics.

This is antithetical to what modern
education aims to teach. Even if you don't care about an educated citizenry (which is,
after all, the premise on which Republicans created the Land Grant Colleges in the
1860s), you should take into consideration the contours of the modern economy. I'm
a big fan of the idea that education should actually make someone employable, but
today that generally means a broad, liberal arts education. Professions are changing so
fast that, as I wrote before on this blog, the top ten in-demand jobs in 2010 did not exist in 2004. The only way to train people for jobs that we can't even imagine is to teach them the broad contours of communication, social science, mathematics, science.

A broad, liberal arts education.

Honestly, I can't even grapple with the idea that someone is proposing to turn education BACKWARDS in the name of progressivism....

Randall said...

Is there a Regressive Party out there?

hcr said...

You know, I just can't leave this. What on earth are they thinking?!!!

Randall said...

An update from Inside Higher Ed: