False Dichotomy of STEM versus Liberal Arts

The debates of Charles Percy Snow continue on over 60 years after he delivered his "Two Cultures" lecture at Cambridge University. A novelist and physicist by training, Snow lamented the growing chasm between the sciences and the humanities. Today, we still perpetuate this "either or" mentality instead of considering their mutual, concurrent benefit. Increasingly we have political scientists who are highly statistically competent, and mechanical engineers who are shrewdly versed in "design thinking." In other words, "fuzzies" are becoming more techie, and "techies" are becoming more fuzzy. Rather than label types of study as one or the other, an either or choice, we ought to be encouraging students to blend humanism and technical literacy. 

Allison Schrager in Quartz highlights research showing longer-term payout based on college major and even suggests that "Degree-specific pricing is one way to convey value to students." In other words, charge a philosophy major less and an engineering major more. The sooner we can internalize that we need our engineers to understand ethics and philosophy, and we need our english majors to understand the basics of statistics and web development, we can remedy once and for all the division between our "Two Cultures." The Liberal Arts ought to embrace STEM, and the widespread calls for STEM might also consider that knowing how to build everything, but not why we build anything, leaves us in a no better societal position. Indeed, you can do anything, fuzzy or techie. Even if you study political science or philosophy. Just look at Ben Silbermann who founded Pinterest, or Stewart Butterfield who founded Slack. They studied Political Science and Philosophy respectively. Not everyone in Silicon Valley is a "techie," nor is it the antidote.