The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

The Independent Student Newspaper of St. John's University

The Torch

Don’t Forget About the Humanities!

As Universities shift their focus to business and STEM programs, it’s important to not let the liberal arts fall behind
Torch Photo / Elizabeth Kaufmann

“I study English!” 

“Oh! To do what with?” 

An interaction I and countless other humanities majors have had way too many times. One that doesn’t fault the person who asks but instead is a direct embodiment of how our society has dropped the liberal arts as legitimate areas of study. 

  I was a victim of this push for productivity — formerly engrossing myself in the business world because I thought I had to. Side eyes of disapproval came from all different places when I announced my desire to study English in hopes of becoming a teacher. Eventually I caved, switching over to a sector of business just before I registered for my first set of college classes. But, a few years later I withdrew, resorting back to who I knew I was — a writer, a reader, a fanatic for analytical conversation, I was an English major.  

Going back to my roots allowed me to tap into a belief I didn’t realize I had until that “girlboss-ification” was pushed on me — Universities are more than institutions to churn out workers. 

St. John’s University is close to opening the new St. Vincent Health Sciences Center. The building is set to come with a slew of new majors, minors and opportunities for incoming STEM students. The opening of the new science building is incredibly exciting — it’s nice to know that the University is interested in reaching out to students of all prospective interests. But generally speaking, this shift in college priorities is leaving those outside of the business-STEM realm in the dust. 

It’s highly important to properly prepare students for the job force, but it’s also highly important to allow them to experience life emotionally. Lowering the shrinkage of a liberal arts investment ensures that the authentic human experience is preserved. While business and STEM programs are necessary for continuing world development and sustainment, we can’t forget about the sustainment of human emotion. Nor about the sustainment and preservation of our history — not in a way to capitalize on, but as a way to hold the sacredness of humanity close to our hearts. 

A liberal arts education, even just a few meaningful classes, is useful in that it provides students with the capacity to explore their world from a critical lens. It allows for better operation of our current society politically and economically, as students are able to assess their world critically. But while the productivity of a liberal arts education is all well and good, it is also productive to study for the sake of knowledge rather than purpose. The liberal arts allow for an understanding larger than just our niche major — it’s an ability to take off the blinders and see all there is we could possibly see in just our short college years.

Liberal arts and the “productive majors” need to be taught side by side — but not making liberal arts an afterthought. Everyone should have basic business comprehension, basic anatomy and life-saving skill comprehension, and everyone should have basic knowledge of how our environment works. Simultaneously, everyone should be able to critically assess and basically understand an artistic work as well as the systems of their society. 

Now what “basic knowledge” is one can’t really articulate in a world ever changing its truth. So, this is to say we cannot leave out one or the other if we want well rounded individuals to come out of our universities. Equal attention must be paid to all majors, minor and concentrations as each are vital to what makes our current society function. Diverging from the liberal arts will make nothing but flat minded worker bees.  

What I’m mad about is why was I told I couldn’t follow my passion. Why was I staying up at night wondering how I’d have a home, a family, see the world because apparently studying the liberal arts meant I wouldn’t have a cent to my name. I’m not meant to be a cog, you’re not meant to be a cog — let’s get real and understand the importance of understanding. Not just production, not just sustainment, but… I can’t even put a word to the practice of emotional experiences. Intelligent, emotional, thought provoking connection to our reality, and our reality is not in a corporate building.

We need to experience alongside our existence. Living things – us, as humans – are capable of so much more than robotic being. Let’s relish the opportunities we have to remember our humanity, and that can only be done by having a chance to experience the liberal arts.

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About the Contributor
Elizabeth Kaufmann, Opinion Editor & Human Resources Manager
Liz is a senior English major serving as the Human Resources Manager. Having been with The Torch since the start of her freshman year, Liz has held multiple positions within the publication and has loved every second of it. Being from Long Island, Liz commutes to the Queens campus. Liz self identifies as a reader, a writer, a coffee enthusiast and a specialist in long walks.  Liz can be reached at [email protected]

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    DimitrisFeb 14, 2024 at 11:21 pm

    Good. To the point.

    Reply