According to The Washington Post, The University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point has proposed dropping 13 humanities and social sciences majors to add programs with “clear career pathways,” in order to address a 5-6% decline in enrollment and a 4.5 million dollar deficit. Students and faculty members alike have been surprised and concerned because of this news. Students are planning a sit-in on Wednesday called “Save Our Majors.”
The proposed plan targets liberal arts and humanities majors because the university prioritizes meeting “the state’s workforce needs” through ‘hard skills’ that can be easily measured, rather than ‘soft skills.’ The school statement says that while the majors would be eliminated, liberal arts and humanities courses would still be taught, and minors or certificates will be offered.
The new proposed programs to be expanded upon are heavily STEM related, including:
- Chemical Engineering
- Computer Information Systems
- Conservation Law Enforcement
- Fire Science
- Graphic Design
- Captive Wildlife
- Ecosystem Design and Remediation
- Environmental Engineering
- Geographic Information Science
- Master of Business Administration
- Master of Natural Resources
- Doctor of Physical Therapy
In order to expand these programs, resources are being shifted from programs less students are enrolled, such as:
- American Studies
- Art (except for Graphic Design)
- English (a English Education certification will continue)
- History (Social Science Education certification will continue)
- Music Literature
- Political Science
- Sociology (Social Work major continuing)
Students already in these majors will be able to complete their degrees. The process of reviewing the proposal to discontinue programs begins in August. If the university is recommended to reduce the amount of tenured faculty, the program cuts will not happen before June 2020. While the university’s concern about student’s career-readiness is valid, cutting over a dozen programs may be harmful, since not all students will want to be hired in STEM-related fields. Will universities choose to cater to the needs and interests of all students, regardless of if their future career happens to be STEM or humanities-related?
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