Faced with realities of life today, many Americans continue to raise questions about the value of STEM and liberal arts education. There is a clear divide between the two; some people claim that STEM majors (science, technology, engineering, and math) are by far more valuable in today’s culture and economics compared to liberal arts majors. In the other hand, proponents of liberal arts education argue that liberal arts education provides skills, which are critical for today’s workplace (Ray). However, STEM education is more important than Liberal Arts education because research scientists and engineers have been the backbone to scientific and technological innovations, which have been the primary drivers of U.S economy, thus, exploring the economic benefits of the present and undiscovered technologies will require knowledge and skills in science, technology, engineering and Math fields. Additionally, there is high demand for STEM majors in U.S workforce.
STEM education is crucial to continued scientific and technological innovation are seen in the U.S that has traditionally sustained the nation’s competitiveness in global markets. According to the U.S Congress Joint Committee report of 2012, scientific and technological innovations are what drive the U.S. economy (1). The report shows the economic pitfalls that may befall U.S if STEM education is deemphasized. However, this does not mean liberal art education is of no value to the U.S economy as it provides useful skills such as teamwork, communication, sensitivity to cultural diversity, economic and societal differences (McNutt& Ray) for the workplace as the world continues to become more globalized. However, it has to be understood that teamwork, sensitivity to cultural diversity and other values suggested by proponents of liberal art education are not commodities but values to help sell goods and services. Therefore, STEM education that leads to the production of goods and technological services must come first. Otherwise, the nation will have no commodities for the market in future if we relent on STEM education.
The second reason STEM education is more important than liberal art education is that integrated approach to STEM research is likely to help solve the current complex problems, including climatic problems and health problems. However, proponents of liberal art education are likely to oppose some approaches used in scientific research, such as stem-cell approach due to ethical concerns. The paradox is, the opponents to such approaches would want to see breakthroughs that may aid treat cancer, HIV/aids, etc. but do not possess the scientific knowledge and skills for such breakthroughs. Undeniable, research must remain within the ethical confines, but knowing ethically what needs to be done, as provided by art education is inefficient for scientific and technological breakthroughs which will address most of the prevailing problems.
Today there is high demand for STEM degrees such as computer science, engineering, and finance (McNutt). The implication of this is that the U.S workplace needs a workforce which can solve real problems, i.e. people with the know-how to ensure its continued industrial production and technological innovations. However, the need of interpersonal skills honed by liberal art education cannot be overlooked for the healthy relations at the workplace (Ray). However, as stated earlier, the primary task is the production of goods and services for the market and must be given priority. In this line of argument, STEM education is critical for continued production. In fact, liberal arts degrees can be viewed as a secondary requirement for the workplace i.e. they are courses offered to improve human resource in the workplace but not primarily necessary for production. Cohen writes that one of the purposes of going through education system is to meet the employer’s requirements. Given that U.S employers require STEM majors for their companies, students will miss the mark by pursuing liberal arts degrees.
Finally, STEM education is more important in today’s economy than liberal art education because there is high demand for STEM degrees and significant support for the same education from the government (Ebersole). The implication of this is open. Students possessing the STEM degrees are more likely to get jobs in the U.S compared to those with liberal art education degrees. For example, those holding technology degrees remains to be the most demanded graduates in the U.S (McNutt). However, employment statistics challenge this notion. Graduates holding a degree in liberal arts have witnessed a growing uptake in the U.S workforce due to the overall growth of job offers in 2014 (McNutt). While this rise may seem a good story for liberal arts graduates, this phenomenon needs a careful interpretation. The overall rise in job offers does not indicate increased job opportunities for all liberal art majors. The U.S is obsessed with the spirit of scientific and technological advancements; thus, STEM graduates are more likely to get jobs than liberal arts grads.
In conclusion, STEM education remains more important than liberal arts education in the U.S. Knowledge, skills and abilities in science, technology, engineering and math subject are crucial for exploring the existing and unexplored technologies for the growth of the U.S economy. There is high demand for STEM degrees and solid government support for STEM education as it is what can sustain U.S’ competitiveness in the world’s market.