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World’s top economists just made the case for why we still need English majors

Washington Post: “A great migration is happening on U.S. college campuses. Ever since the fall of 2008, a lot of students have walked out of English and humanities lectures and into STEM classes, especially computer science and engineering. English majors are down more than a quarter (25.5 percent) since the Great Recession, according to data compiled by the National Center for Education Statistics. It’s the biggest drop for any major tracked by the center in its annual data and is quite startling, given that college enrollment has jumped in the past decade. Ask any college student or professor why this big shift from studying Chaucer to studying coding is happening and they will probably tell you it’s about jobs. As students feared for their job prospects, they — and their parents — wanted a degree that would lead to a steady paycheck after graduation. The perception is that STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) is the path to employment. Majors in computer science and health fields have nearly doubled from 2009 to 2017. Engineering and math have also seen big jumps. As humanities majors slump to the lowest level in decades, calls are coming from surprising places for a revival. Some prominent economists are making the case for why it still makes a lot of sense to major (or at least take classes) in humanities alongside more technical fields. Nobel Prize winner Robert Shiller’s new book “Narrative Economics” opens with him reminiscing about an enlightening history class he took as an undergraduate at the University of Michigan. He wrote that what he learned about the Great Depression was far more useful in understanding the period of economic and financial turmoil than anything he learned in his economic courses…”

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