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Ser Scot A Ellison

Wisconsin Plan to eliminate Liberal Arts at the University of Wisconsin

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Posted (edited)

What the heck?  Here's the article:

https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/answer-sheet/wp/2018/03/21/university-of-wisconsin-campus-pushes-plan-to-drop-13-majors-including-english-history-and-philosophy/?utm_term=.b7730dc89d89

From the article:
 

Quote

The administration at the University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point recently issued a statement detailing the plan, which still must be approved by a campus governance committee as well as the University of Wisconsin system’s chancellor and Board of Regents.

It said that the school faces a $4.5 million deficit over two years because declining enrollment has led to lower tuition revenue, and proposes adding or expanding 16 programs in areas “with high-demand career paths as a way to maintain and increase enrollment.” Last fall, the school saw an enrollment decrease of 5.4 percent from the year before. That was on top of a 6.8 percent drop the previous year.

“To fund this future investment, resources would be shifted from programs with lower enrollment, primarily in the traditional humanities and social sciences,” the school statement says. “Although some majors are proposed to be eliminated, courses would continue to be taught in these fields, and minors or certificates will be offered.”

Programs that would be expanded, which “have demonstrated value and demand in the region,” include marketing, management, graphic design, fire science and computer information systems.

The student newspaper, the Pointer, quoted Samantha Stein, a 2017 graduate, as opposing the plan. Stein, who earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and had a minor in biomedical writing through the English department, said:

“The shift away from the humanities and from the opening of one’s mind to other cultures, languages, the arts, political science and so much more is one that universities will not return from, and we are giving up what a college education is all about if we do this.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

I'm shocked to see a major public university seeking to eliminate liberal arts from their curriculum .  

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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One of the goals of college is to give students a well rounded  education . Eliminating the humanities defeats this purpose. 

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Why the surprise? If you cut enough taxes to starve government of revenue while putting the cash that you do have towards sports stadiums that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, or giving multi-million dollar tax breaks to businesses that pocket the cash and leave your state anyway, you got to make up the money somewhere. That's just basic common sense fiscal conservatism.

Besides, why should Republicans want to back liberal indoctrination centers anyway? That's all they see colleges as, after all.

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They are seeking to eliminate majors but not courses, so there is opportunity for students to still learn about liberal arts as electives. Also, it's one campus in the entire U-WI system. A campus that looks on the map to be fairly remote? Hard to say exactly but major cities like Madison, Milwaukee and even Green Bay look hours away. Anyone with familiarity with the area please correct me. What's being proposed is sort of like a high end trade school which in and of itself isn't awful. Especially as it could fall under the umbrella of supply and demand business decision. On it's own I don't look at it as a terrible thing (though I don't think it's awesome either). From a societal perspective is it wise to keep churning out highly-educated, unemployable young people with mountains of student debt or is it better to fill employment needs, in particular at a public school? I mean, isn't there a similar argument to be made for areas with high unemployment that want to cling to coal mining etc. instead of adapting to the times and seeking/learning other skills? Why would universities and colleges be completely exempt from that?

That is a different debate though, I think, from what is happening in Wisconsin. You can't look at it on it's own because of where it is and who is running the state government. It would set a terrible precedent if passed and could be modeled throughout conservative states as their own brand of thought policing. Which is funny considering the whole pushback against liberal education is that schools are graduating their own thought and tone police.

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26 minutes ago, Paladin of Ice said:

Why the surprise? If you cut enough taxes to starve government of revenue while putting the cash that you do have towards sports stadiums that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, or giving multi-million dollar tax breaks to businesses that pocket the cash and leave your state anyway, you got to make up the money somewhere. That's just basic common sense fiscal conservatism.

Besides, why should Republicans want to back liberal indoctrination centers anyway? That's all they see colleges as, after all.

This, especially if you follow Wisconsin state politics. They're slashing everything and it's really showing in their collegiate system. But hey, their football team is still good, and that's what most people in the state care about anyways.

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Posted (edited)
1 hour ago, Paladin of Ice said:

Why the surprise? If you cut enough taxes to starve government of revenue while putting the cash that you do have towards sports stadiums that cost hundreds of millions of dollars, or giving multi-million dollar tax breaks to businesses that pocket the cash and leave your state anyway, you got to make up the money somewhere. That's just basic common sense fiscal conservatism.

Besides, why should Republicans want to back liberal indoctrination centers anyway? That's all they see colleges as, after all.

Because education and inquiry should be valued and fostered.  Turning Universities into mere training schools is just sad.

Edited by Ser Scot A Ellison

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2 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Because education and inquiry should be valued and fostered.  Turning Universities into mere training schools is just sad.

I agree entirely. But with everything we know about the way attitudes towards college have shifted among Republicans in recent years, the steady drumbeat among Republicans to always cut taxes lower, to make up  for the resulting  budget shortfalls  out of  education budgets, how they feel about liberal arts education, and their desire to privatize schools as much as possible or, in some extreme cases, to abolish public education altogether, etc., etc.

It all makes me ask why would anyone be shocked by this outcome? This was a pretty predictable step towards the eventual Republican endgame for education for a long time now, and transparently so. It's so predictable it's almost up there with "the sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow."

So my question isn't why oppose it, or why one would think it's a horrible move, but why be surprised by the development?

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42 minutes ago, Paladin of Ice said:

I agree entirely. But with everything we know about the way attitudes towards college have shifted among Republicans in recent years, the steady drumbeat among Republicans to always cut taxes lower, to make up  for the resulting  budget shortfalls  out of  education budgets, how they feel about liberal arts education, and their desire to privatize schools as much as possible or, in some extreme cases, to abolish public education altogether, etc., etc.

It all makes me ask why would anyone be shocked by this outcome? This was a pretty predictable step towards the eventual Republican endgame for education for a long time now, and transparently so. It's so predictable it's almost up there with "the sun will rise in the east and set in the west tomorrow."

So my question isn't why oppose it, or why one would think it's a horrible move, but why be surprised by the development?

I suppose I shouldn’t be.  That said I’m always surprised by people who are dismissive of the love of learning.

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1 minute ago, King Ned Stark said:

Maybe because the courses being extended have a more practical purpose in that area?

Getting a college education is about more than mere job training.  It is about fostering a love of knowledge and education.  

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18 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Getting a college education is about more than mere job training.  It is about fostering a love of knowledge and education.  

True, because anymore a college education doesn’t truly prepare you for your job, the company or firm that hires you does that.  

Perhaps with their recent decline in enrollment, they’re attempting a different course.  I don’t think coming out of college over a hundred grand in debt to realize you’ll only make fifty grand a year is sitting well people.

Most people love knowledge, I’ve got a daughter in a private college (because she got a scholarship, I can’t pay for that) and even she (@ 20 years old) questions the usefulness of most of her courses.  Knowledge is great, wisdom is better; college should teach you how to think, not what to think.

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Posted (edited)

 College is  also  a place  whereby you can spend four years of  bliss partying, avoiding full time employment.  and  picking  up  knowledge which will enable to you be a successful gameshow consestant. B)

Edited by GAROVORKIN

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29 minutes ago, GAROVORKIN said:

 College is  also  a place  whereby you can spend four years of  bliss partying, avoiding full time employment.  and  picking  up  knowledge which will enable to you be a successful gameshow consestant. B)  declare bankruptcy 6 times after inheriting hundreds of millions of dollars from your daddy, become a reality TV show star, and then become President without being able to functionally read.

FTFY

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Even for political science, enrollment in undergrad courses and as a major is down nationwide and especially at the school I'm at.  Over the past two years we've been working to emphasize more technical skills that could be applied to a wide array of professions within specific courses and the program at-large to attract more students.  But damn, that's extreme.  Have a friend in the poly sci department at UW-Whitewater - gonna see him this weekend for a wedding, will have to inquire.

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1 hour ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

That said I’m always surprised by people who are dismissive of the love of learning.

I've met very few people who are outright dismissive of learning -- there are more of them in the US than there are in my native culture, but even so, they are very few. However, there are a few reasons why people are turning on academia and trimming of this nature quite likely only the beginning.

First and most importantly, a college degree is more expensive than ever and, at the same time, less useful than ever. It's still probably worth it for most people, but the value proposition is objectively worse than it has ever been. It's not clear what colleges are doing with all of this money either -- teaching is being outsourced to poorly paid adjuncts, but the funds are still being spent somehow.

Second, universities have allowed the media to create the impression that the adults running them are not in control. It is the nature of young adults to rebel and as long as there are universities, there will be student protests. The recent spate would have been nothing extraordinary... if not for the behavior of the administrators and professors.

Third, academia cannot be ideologically opposed to half the country forever. It can (and, in fact, must!) generate new ideas which will no doubt temporarily put it at odds with various sectors of society at times -- but it cannot remain in this state for decades when the sector in question is large. Academia's response thus far has been some mix of elitist quipping (along the lines of "We can't help it if you hate the truth, ha ha") and the treatment of the people who are increasingly distrustful of them as some sort of exotic species of animal.

These three combine for a rather unpleasant cocktail. On the one hand, universities now need more money than they ever did, but on the other, they're alienating prospective customers who have either lost respect for them or view the education they provide as indoctrination (or both). To make things even worse, the same people are also voters who are responsible for electing officials who keep funds flowing towards universities... and they're not going to do that if they view academia with contempt. Something has to give.

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46 minutes ago, Altherion said:

First and most importantly, a college degree is more expensive than ever and, at the same time, less useful than ever. It's still probably worth it for most people, but the value proposition is objectively worse than it has ever been. It's not clear what colleges are doing with all of this money either -- teaching is being outsourced to poorly paid adjuncts, but the funds are still being spent somehow.

I agree with this.  In terms of being "worth" it, see above.  As for teaching being outsourced, as someone that has taught as both a grad student and adjunct while being criminally underpaid, yeah.  Both grad students and adjuncts need to unionize as they continuously take on more and more students with no corresponding increase in pay.  Unfortunately, the attempts to do so that I've seen over the past half-decade have been discouraging, to put it nicely.

53 minutes ago, Altherion said:

Second, universities have allowed the media to create the impression that the adults running them are not in control. It is the nature of young adults to rebel and as long as there are universities, there will be student protests. The recent spate would have been nothing extraordinary... if not for the behavior of the administrators and professors.

Ha, this is farcical.  It's almost as if your reaction to Kent State would be "well, if only the faculty demonstrated more control over those young rebels, they wouldn't be dead."

1 hour ago, Altherion said:

Third, academia cannot be ideologically opposed to half the country forever.

Why not?  Academia has been "opposed," or perceived as such, the ideological right for time immemorial.  That's because academia is epistemologically based on continually building upon knowledge, an inherently progressive endeavor that will by definition be anathema to a conservative ideology.

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Up until a year and a half ago, a majority of college graduates were conservative republican and said college grads have as long a history of being both conservative and republican as country clubs do, or the institution of college itself.

so the popular conservative media supposition that colleges are indoctrination factories is rather not borne out by the facts and history of the matter, because if they’re indoctrination factories then they’ve failed at since, well, forever.

But this is a slight distraction, access to college historically correlates with high income, and high income historically correlates with being conservative and republican. Colleges have never been effective at indoctrinating youths, the youths are more or less themselves already without any third party putting a thumb on the scales.

now people with excess degrees have historically been liberal, but excess degrees generally correlate with lack of money which of course correlates with being liberal.

i say this as a kid who my parents might say was indoctrinated by college and came outer the opposite of the ardent little conservative that went in. But I remember distinctly realizing at fifteen or sixteen that I didn’t believe any of the conservative lies and nostrums I knew by heart and rather thought they were all horrifically wrong—but I was afraid to come out as liberal until after I had been in college and gained some confidence, experience and peer support.

in other words, not indoctrinated, despite appearances as such.

but let’s be honest, the popularity of college has declined in precise proportion to the access that women and minorities have to college. Once minorities were allowed in, popularity went down. When the courts said that colleges could, would and should compensate minorities for the systemic disinvestment, deliberate neglect, and abusive behavior of the public school system towards minority students the popularity of college went down. When women began attending college more than men, the popularity of college went down.

like so much else in America, the increase in contempt for college is rooted in racism and sexism , gotta stop those uppity b*****s and n*****s that don’t know they place amiright? Corse I am.

(this is not to discount the long and storied history of contempt in America fer book larnin, but a lot of that is tied up in historic class conflicts and reflective of college as yet another realm the vast untouchables castes weren’t allowed to access.)

 

and i gotta disagree with Scot, the only reason to go to college is to get a job, the learning and experience are electives to the purpose, but the entire point is employment in the field of your choice. — and just like the above mentioned indoctrination, college sure as shit ain’t gonna Foster no love of learning, that shit has to come pre installed in the students, they’re not going to Suddenly osmosis a love of learning because they got assigned Virgil and Citizen Kane in their humanities classes and fell in love with learning the classics. 

 

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5 hours ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

Getting a college education is about more than mere job training.  It is about fostering a love of knowledge and education.  

Exactly, I mean afterall, a population that fails to develop widespread skills in critical thinking could potentially even do something disastrous like electing a buffoonish, reality TV conman as its leader and Commander in Chief. Just imagine how scary and disappointing that would be.

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