• The McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences



    Dean Stan Green

    The current economic times for our students and recent graduates are about as tough as I have witnessed in 35 years as an educator. Anyone reading the newspaper is aware that the unemployment rate for recent college graduates is the highest in three decades. This is reality. What university educators need to ask is:

    How can universities best prepare students for their future careers?

    Some people assert that universities should turn toward training students in technical skills and leave behind the more general education of the humanities and social sciences. The liberal arts are nice, some assert, and perhaps lead to fuller lives, but they do not prepare students to make a good living. My response is quite the opposite. I certainly agree that seeing a Shakespearean play, listening to Mozart's music, and reading Thomas Jefferson's writings are prerequisites for a more enjoyable and engaging life. And I do not argue with the fact that students need to develop competencies and skills to prepare them for gainful employment and successful careers. But my work as an educator convinces me that:

    Many students will best gain those skills and competencies necessary for successful careers through study in the humanities and social sciences.

    In point of fact, the tension between the liberal arts and technical training is almost as old as our country. Frank Donoghue's outstanding book The Last Professors cites the instance of Francis Wayland, the president of Brown University, who in 1842 proclaimed that "if the colleges did not provide the training desired by the mercantile and industrial interests, businesses would set up their own competing schools." Indeed, in 2010 we now have for-profit colleges that focus on technical education as well as corporate universities such as McDonald's University that educate employees to meet the company's business needs. While these schools may prepare their students for their specific jobs, they do not provide them for the ever-changing job and career market.

    The liberal arts provide students with the foundation needed to meet the challenges of the fast-paced world of employment they will face.

    I base this assertion on several observations.

    To begin, it is rather arrogant (and in the case of corporate universities, self-serving) to think that any of us know what jobs and careers await this and the next generations of students. Students today are like pioneers moving into new lands. In some cases, their future may actually be in foreign lands as the world economy and culture globalizes. A first bit of advice for a student, therefore, might be to learn the language, culture, and history of another country—skills and knowledge found on the liberal arts palette. Second, one need look no further than the credits of a movie or a university Web page to find professions that didn't even exist a decade—or perhaps two or three years—ago. Movie credits include scores of new jobs from animation to media lawyers. Closer to home, how many universities even had a Web page 10 or 15 years ago? How many universities and companies used social media such as Facebook and Twitter to communicate with their students, employees, and constituents and to market themselves even two years ago? How many lawyers worked in the area of proprietary control of virtual courses five years ago? What kinds of new jobs then await our college graduates?

    We are not training college students for their first job; we are educating them for their life and their career.

    One effective way to prepare for this exciting and daunting future is to become able to work across disciplines by way of the liberal arts. The real world is simply not divided into university-like departments. A close friend of mine told me that as a lawyer, he constantly used his English degree to understand the subtleties of legal language and legal history. A bank president confided to me that his most successful entry-level employees were theater majors because they had the communication and people skills required in a banking environment. After his presentation on his career in advertising, Thomas Paar, a Monmouth graduate, was asked a great question by a current student: "What are the most common majors of your colleagues in the advertising world?" He answered that he worked mostly among art and English majors. He himself had majored in art and had learned the marketing side of the business on the job.

    Studying broadly and across disciplines is the best preparation for future employment.

    The faculty and staff of McMurray School of Humanities and Social Sciences work hard to provide innovative curricula that provide students with a choice of pathways toward successful lives and careers. This is why I am proud of our faculty's commitment to prepare students with the liberal arts knowledge, skills, and confidence they need to lead fulfilling and gainfully employed lives.

    -Dean Stan Green

    The School of Humanities and Social Sciences is dedicated to providing the perfect balance of a rich, comprehensive, liberal arts education with the practical concerns of finding gainful employment in even the most difficult of economic times. Monmouth University remains committed to experiential education and personalized attention that affords students both a breadth and depth of experience. Students who are entering school now will emerge to a world with new career options and job paths that didn’t exist when they were seniors in high school. Students who study broadly across multiple disciplines will find themselves better equipped to adapt to the changing global economy and use the skill set they develop to become leaders in any field they enter.