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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    Interdisciplinary education supersedes humanities-sciences segregation

    If I had a nickel for every time one of my fellow English majors quipped, “Ha! We can’t do math! That’s why we’re studying English,” when anything dealing with numbers has come up, I would end up with more money than, as a humanities major, would be possible for me to calculate — at least, according to some people.

    I have nothing against making jokes in class; however, self-deprecating comments about our majors can be harmful when it comes to fostering a positive, encouraging academic environment. I would like to think that both my classmates and myself are studying English because we’re passionate about it — not because we’re too unintelligent to have any other option. The same goes for my peers across the academic spectrum. If you’re a business major, I sincerely hope you enjoy it. If you’re studying electrical engineering, more power to you — no pun intended.

    When we belittle our own majors, or mock those of our friends, we degrade our university in general. In an age where non-STEM programs seem to be constantly under fire from the government and politicians, it’s more important than ever that we, the students, stand up for what we’re learning. Instead of perpetuating stereotypes about different fields of study, we should do our best to learn from each other. After all, isn’t a well-rounded education one of the principles of college?

    As a dutiful student of the humanities, I’m no stranger to comments about the cushy nature of my major. Other liberal arts programs tend to get jeered at as well; I have seen many a science major roll her eyes at the validity of a degree that lacks any lab requirements. However, these types of comments come from all sides. I’ve also heard humanities majors remark that while engineers may be able to make money, they’re too used to staring at calculators to be able to speak with people or to write competently. My response to these kinds of dialogue is straightforward: We need to adopt an interdisciplinary approach to learning, while keeping in mind that everyone has their own academic strengths and weaknesses. In order to do so, respect for both ourselves and others is key.

    Unless you have taken every course offered at the UA, there is no way to know how difficult programs you’re not in actually are. Making broad generalizations about every student studying a major only increases the likelihood that a statement will be untrue.

    When we make remarks that disparage a course of study, we also send the message that a little program snipping here or there is perfectly acceptable. A few days ago, Gov. Jan Brewer announced that budgets for state universities will barely increase, so the threat of cuts in the future is very real. Making derogatory comments about our majors in the present isn’t helping. If we can’t appreciate our own programs, what right do we have to expect others to see their value?

    Our self-deprecating comments contribute to the idea that certain subjects are lesser in value and unworthy of study. We can all make our learning environment more positive by embracing what we love about what we study, and by asking others to tell us the most interesting things about their own programs. Through collaboration as a group, we can become more balanced, intelligent and informed individuals. Remembering to pay every program the respect it deserves, even if you occasionally joke about it, is the first step.

    Brittany Rudolph is a sophomore studying English and art history. Follow her @DailyWildcat.

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