Surrounded by STEM


Maeva Andriamanamihaja, Author

The demand for STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) professionals has grown increasingly, following the rapid rate of technological advancement and the expansion of the digital market. Knowing that these occupations are not only sought after, but also prove to be lucrative, droves of students choose to study the subject area in college each year with the hopes of one day having a career in the field. With this, fewer students are going into the humanities, raising questions as to whether a liberal arts degree will be worthless in a STEM-focused world.

The STEM rush is understandable; the US Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that occupations in the field are expected to grow over two times faster (8.0%) than the total for all occupations (3.7%) in the next decade. Consistent with this trend, STEM education has been brought to the forefront to give students a competitive edge in the professional world. 

As students are gravitating away from the humanities and towards STEM– valued for teaching skills like problem solving and finding real-world solutions – supporters of the liberal arts say that the skills the humanities emphasize are just as important. “The humanities offer individuals the opportunity to test ideas and to imagine their consequences. They provide a context for envisioning the impact—positive and negative—of new ideas in our culture, politics, and daily lives,” writes the National Endowment For The Humanities on their website. Liberal arts advocates point out that these skills are applicable and useful in the workforce. 

Other viewpoints in the STEM vs. humanities discourse contend that the two fields are dependent on one another and must coexist. Investor Mark Cuban shares this belief and thinks that there is going to be a greater demand for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors in the future. “When the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data,” he says. Because of this, he projects that it will be necessary to have freethinkers in the workforce. English, philosophy, and foreign language majors are among those Cuban believes will be invaluable in the future. 

With Battlefield being a magnet school for information technology, many of its students are among those aspiring to a future in STEM. Some students feel the push to go into the field as more of a societal pressure though. Junior Austin Cardran, who has been steered towards science and technology since elementary school, says, “Some teachers and counselors have especially made STEM sound like the only future there was for us kids without telling us to explore other fields.” Knowing at a young age that STEM was not for him, he is considering studying political science or history in college.