A recent survey conducted by the Montana Board of Regents reported there has been a steady increase of students enrolled in humanities programs in the state. This rise has been matched by a sharp decrease in jobs available for those with technical degrees nationwide.
Angela Arevalo, chairwoman of the board, commented on the trend. “We’ve over-saturated the job market,” she said. “We’ve told kids they have to get degrees that they can do something with, but apparently society can’t handle that.” She went on to say that every job, save “artsy” ones, were effectively taken.
“We’ve decided to fund our humanities departments,” said board member Tony Graham. “No other program is a good use of Montana money.” Graham went on to say that the board would cut any programs like engineering and physics that were “pointless and superfluous.”
As a result, MSU’s history, philosophy and similar programs have had vast increases in funding. However, funding for technical degrees has gone down. The engineering program has been forced to fire professors and increase lecture size. “Its not fair to students,” said Myles Grogan, an engineering professor. “Just because we don’t teach something that stimulates the economy doesn’t mean we don’t have worth.” He added that engineering is a part of culture that people should learn.
“We wanted to add a biomedical engineering degree this year but were unable, “ Grogan said. “The regents refused to add anything that did not directly create jobs.”
“We would recommend that students enroll in the humanities,” Graham said. “That’s the only chance that they have.”
Enrollment in the humanities has skyrocketed at MSU. One transfer from the physics department, Philip McClain, explained the difficulty of changing to philosophy. “The professor keeps throwing Latin terms on the board,” he said. “It’s like he expects me to read.” He added, “I don’t feel as if we are getting anything accomplished.”
Failure rates in the Department of History and Philosophy have increased by 80 percent. “Those old technical students just don’t seem to get it,” said Colin Mann, a philosophy professor. “I will assign a five-page paper, and all I get back is a diagram.”