University of South Carolina historian warns that students are missing out by not majoring in history

Historians in the News
tags: education, University of South Carolina

It is ironic that only a year after the Confederate battle flag was removed from the State House — after a heated public debate among South Carolinians over competing interpretations of our history — the academic major of history is in apparent decline among new freshmen at USC.

As Avery G. Wilkes explained, history, among other disciplines, is “losing” in comparison to the “winners” — the science, technology, engineering and business majors that attract incoming students wanting lucrative careers (“More USC students focusing on majors that promise lucrative futures,” Thursday).

Hmmm. I guess we solved the problem of the past after the flag came down. Now we South Carolinians can move along, and think only about the future in our professional and personal lives. 

I am joking, of course. But my fellow history professors and I often hear the arguments against the history major: It’s not practical; you’ll never get a job; Starbucks has enough baristas. 

Try telling that to Ted Turner (founder of CNN, classics major), Stewart Butterfield (founder of Flickr, philosophy major) and Lloyd Blankfein (former CEO of Goldman Sachs, history major). What did they ever do with their lives?

The fact is that history, and the other humanities (English, philosophy, et cetera) teach critical thinking. We teach how to process and analyze information. We teach about other cultures, beneficial for any would-be international banker wanting to work in France or China. And even if you read the value of a college education in terms of lifetime earnings, the situation isn’t as dire as we think. ...

Read entire article at The State

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