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NC State Ag Economist Dr. Mike Walden – “Will Liberal Arts Rule?”


Mary:  I’m Mary Walden, with economist MW, welcoming you to the economic perspective.   Today’s program asks if liberal arts will rule.  Mike, the so-called STEM fields – science, technology, engineering, and math – are frequently cited as the “go-to” majors for college students in our modern information age.  These are the fields that are expected to expand and command the highest salaries as we continue to develop new techniques and innovations in our rapidly evolving technological world.  But I understand there’s another viewpoint saying old-fashioned liberal arts fields might eventually be the most sought after.  Please explain.

Mike:  Summary Answer

  1. First, nothing I say here should be taken as reducing the importance of STEM majors
  2. But there are some futurists who see a complementary importance of liberal arts fields
  3. Argument is that much new technology is being designed to assist humans
  4. Driverless car, “smart” home, robots – ultimate goal is to perform tasks that assist humans
  5. Therefore, need an understanding of human behavior – and this is the domain of liberal arts
  6. Say you are the manufacturer of driverless cars – and want to sell them
  7. Have to overcome some significant concerns of humans about safety and reliability
  8. Those who have trained in the liberal arts can advise on these
  9. As technology becomes more complex and far-reaching, some say understanding the human element will be even more important
  10. I’m MW

Mary:  And I’m Mary Walden for N C State Extension