OPINION | Liberal arts education is more conducive to academic success

Robert Chumbley, Contributing Writer

Many business-minded Tulanians and their parents like to talk about the “real world” and its justification of a skills-centered education. If it even exists at all, this mercantile “real world” must be an abomination, a chimera composed of institutions like discrimination, market capitalism, utilitarianism and the U.S. As such, the “real world” could never instill a sense of morality in its citizens.

The skills-centered education is also paternalistic and masculine, in contrast to the androgynous and democratic liberal arts education. Additionally, when students prematurely specialize, whether in a career path or a major, societal norms constrain the entire decision-making process. Pledging allegiance to a single academic sector too early stunts young adults’ development of selfhood and interests. Tulane should be promoting the opposite and dismantling hierarchies learned in primary and secondary school.

It is worth asking at this point why postponing specialization does not simply postpone the definition of hierarchies to a later date. The answer is that a postponed decision is not really a specialization at all. 

Exploring and making a decision later in one’s academic career is an informed choice based on qualitative experience in one’s formative years.

Unhurried decision-making that takes place in postgraduate education does not uphold the same limiting structure as deciding during undergraduate university. Already carrying with them a well-rounded intellect from the undergraduate liberal arts education, graduate students receive a subject-based overview through which they may choose a specialty later in their postgraduate academic career.  

The Tulane administration ought to implement more stringent science, technology, engineering and mathematics requirements for liberal arts majors and vice versa. This would break down the disconnection between the sects of academia that are arbitrary and harmful to the learning experience of all students.