Perhaps we need to reconsider the term “useless liberal arts degree” in the business world.
It’s been a common theme in recent years to deride and chastise those who pursue a degree in humanities. Faced with a slow economy and an increasing number of students taking out loans to cover their education only to struggle to find work after graduating, many proudly point to Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) degrees as the only “worthwhile” studies in college without recognizing the growing benefits an arts degree in the real world.
Make no mistake, this isn’t about demeaning the importance of science and mathematics. It’s about showing how the arts and sciences work best when they complement each other, and how many businesses are beginning to realize this fact.
Take Slack, for instance. It’s a useful messaging app for teams that need an efficient way to communicate and is currently valued at over 2.8 billion. CEO Stewart Butterfield attributes much of Slack’s success to his philosophy and history degrees, and the fact that key persons across their team hold non-STEM degrees as well.
Slack isn’t alone. Liberal arts perspectives can often strengthen the adaptability of their operations in an ever-changing business environment. Complex problems today require creative, outside the box thinking. Solutions that a humanities degree is often equipped to explore and analyze.
In such a polarized world, we need to move beyond the “whose major is better” talk that ends with dollar figures attached to a degree. It’s not so much the degree as it is the person wielding it, and most importantly, what can be accomplished when STEM and arts degrees collaborate instead of comparing.