The Student News Site of Conestoga High School



STEM suppresses the humanities


By Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor

When I first came to high school, the prospect of Advanced Placement classes excited me; I couldn’t wait to take higher level classes in the humanities. But, to my disappointment, I couldn’t take an AP English class until my junior year, even though I could take AP Biology, AP Computer Science and high level math and engineering courses right away.

This is unfortunately not just a Conestoga-specific issue. Overall, the attention given to humanities has been dropping, along with people’s preference for it. A study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences found that the rate of people studying the humanities has been going down steadily and is around 10% lower than three years ago.

The reason for this comes from how people treat the humanities. For example, a study by the National Bureau of Economic Research found that on average, universities spend more money on their science, engineering, technology and math, or STEM, programs than on their humanities programs. While this is usually justified by the need for better facilities, many colleges often end up with modern, redesigned STEM buildings and decrepit humanities buildings even though the departments could use the funding for better facilities, classrooms and resources. This lack of care makes the humanities seem unimportant, prompting students to choose not to study it.

This, coupled with an emphasis on STEM fields in school and social situations, has led to people considering the humanities fields low-paying. Not only is this inaccurate, it is also actively harmful. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, unemployment for humanities majors is only one point less than that of STEM majors, and the differences in their incomes average around only $5,000. While these statistics do favor STEM, humanities are nowhere near as bad as public perception makes them out to be.

In fact, this perception then leads to the humanities being seen as inferior, whether that be through the internet’s relentless jokes on gender studies and poetry majors or through annoying relatives’ relentless nagging about choosing a more so-called lucrative career. Beyond just jokes, humanities impact every major field, whether that be through the design of any popular tech company’s website or product all the way to understanding complicated historical situations that affect the present day.

To ensure that the public’s perceptions around the humanities change, institutions must reform their treatment of the humanities. Colleges and universities must take steps to keep their humanities programs funded and up to date. Educators and institutions need to emphasize the humanities’ roles in careers and the contribution they’ve made to modern advancements.

By actively dismissing the humanities’ importance and relevance to society, we are undervaluing wildly important fields that factor into our development daily. The humanities hold a valuable stake in today’s society, and to dismiss their importance is doing a disservice to our future.

Jui Bhatia can be reached at [email protected].

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About the Contributor
Jui Bhatia, Co-Opinion Editor
Jui Bhatia is a senior and the Co-Opinion Editor of The Spoke. She has previously served as the Managing Editor and Beats Editor. She usually writes editorial pieces about pop culture and national news. She is also an artist, and has created cartoons for The Spoke. She heads the Desi Club and is an active participant of Conestoga's Students Organized Against Racism group.