Blame the failing economy on…anthropologists?

If you are reading this site, surely you have heard about Governor Scott’s anti-anthropology commentary.  No?  Read this, then: Anthropologists Fire Back.    If you want to laugh about it, read this: Florida Governor Campaigns Against…Anthropologists.  And, if you want to keep up to date on the controversy, you can do that here: Florida Governor: Anthropology Not Needed Here.

But if you really want to know why anthropology, and the soft sciences and humanities are needed, this is what you need to read: Teach Every Undergrad Anthropology: A Response from a (First-Rate) STEM Major.

The point is, why pick on anthropology?  Don’t you want you children to be well-reasoned with decent writing skills, a basic understanding of cultures on our global economy, a working knowledge of basic genetics, an understanding of the biological un-reality of race, and an ability to imagine issues from different perspectives? So, then, you want your child to learn anthropology. Right. Thought so.  You probably want your children to take English classes too.  And history.  Perhaps a romance language?  Maybe, just maybe, you want them to major in an interdisciplinary field that encourages out of the box thinking.  I’m not knocking science or math– you probably want your children to take those too.  But what’s science without application?  What’s math without a subject to which to apply it?

And while we are at it, why are you knocking academics? Oh, sure, there are problems in our field, but without us, who is going to teach your children any of this?  If we don’t research, write, and, yes, sit around and think, who is going to train the next generation of school teachers, political leaders, doctors, lawyers, business owners, salespeople….wh0 is going to train the next generation to raise the one that follows? We learn to teach, and everyone must have a teacher to learn.

Stop picking on us as the problem.  Having anthropology classes and majors isn’t the downfall of the economy, isn’t creating an additional drain on our society, and isn’t the villain in this story.  English-major jokes notwithstanding, humanities and social science trained individuals contribute quite a bit back to our society under any number of labels.  Eliminating us doesn’t make sense.  And knocking the field and its teachers as a whole makes even less sense.

And remember, we study you.  Do  you really want to tick off the people who study people?

2 thoughts on “Blame the failing economy on…anthropologists?

  1. Four-year colleges and universities are not vocational schools. College is not a place where you learn a specific set of skills and then follow a particular job path. College is the place where you learn how to think, and achieve a level of knowledge so that you can be a productive, informed member of society who can then apply that knowledge to pursue a variety of careers. I think what I find most frustrating about Scott’s comments is that he is not a lone wacko who doesn’t value higher education. Scott is a wacko in a large sea of wackos who agree with him, including some of our students. Unfortunately this line of thinking has very real consequences, from attempts at cutting funding to higher education to meet state budget needs, to the shift towards a paradigm where students are considered “customers”, and departments have to increasingly pander to their “wants” instead of their educational needs.

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