Defending liberal education

Dear Editor,
Liberal education, and the study of the liberal arts and sciences, must remain the foundation of the American higher education system.
Nationwide, we’ve seen this concept fall under attack from the pundits, and even politicians from both sides of the aisle.
President Obama recently quipped about the value of one receiving an art history degree, and presidential-hopeful Marco Rubio dropped a well-crafted one liner in a recent debate that, “We need more welders and less philosophers.” The rise of vocational and trade schools is certainly not a bad thing. In fact, it’s great.
Our society, and economy for that matter, needs its welders, engineers and mechanics. But, we undoubtedly need our artists, historians, and social scientists, as well.
The beauty of the American education system is that (unlike in many other places in the world) one’s academic and career fate is not predetermined by the government, or judged by an arbitrary exam that is taken before a child reaches their mid-teens.
In the United States, we are exposed to it all, and can determine for ourselves what we want to pursue.
The study of the liberal arts and sciences exposes students to countless fields and opportunities. Whether it be the social sciences that allow us to better understand ourselves and our actions, the humanities that teach us about culture and how we’ve become who we are, the fine arts that allow us to express our humanity, or the natural sciences that help explain the world around us, studying the arts and sciences teaches us the critical thinking and problem solving skills that are transferable, and needed in the job market today.
They establish a well-rounded and well-versed population that is so critical for the health and longevity of a prosperous society. We must never lose sight of the value, and necessity, of a liberal education.

Jason Maulucci
Student Government Association
University of Vermont, 2017