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How I'd reform higher education How I'd reform higher education
by Joseph Gatt
2020-09-19 07:45:58
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Reforming college to meet job market needs, on one leg.

-Creating a “project management/business ownership” major. Because a lot of the large companies and smaller companies employ staff in charge of managing projects, assisting with projects, or overseeing projects.

The major should be a popular one, because that's where all the jobs are. I'd abolish the MBA and the political science departments, leadership studies or business administration majors and encourage students to major in project management and business ownership instead.

edfun001_400I'd teach students about the fundamentals of computer software, good written and oral communication, networking skills, good team communication skills, and the intricacies of law and the financial market.

I'd also teach them a thing or two about budgeting, financial management, financial planning, market research, risk assessment and so on.

-Ditching anthropology, literature, sociology, history, linguistics, politics, economics, geography, environmental studies, philosophy and replacing those with “teaching” and “journalism and media creation” and “religious studies” degrees. Because most of those degree holders will either work in administration (in which case they should major in project management) or they will be teachers, or they will be journalists. I'd include many classes in teaching degrees, religious studies degrees and journalism degrees, including sociology and anthropology and politics and economics, because that's a lot of what religious workers, journalists and teachers will be dealing with.

Right now journalism degrees tend to focus on creative writing, style and format. That's good, but they should also be about geography and political systems and the environment.

-I wouldn't abolish geology, biology, math, physics, chemistry because we still need those.

-For foreign languages and area studies, I'd try to make sure graduates master the language and the area. If you have a degree in Chinese but can't speak Mandarin, there's a bit of a problem. So I'd encourage those majors to include a one or two-year intensive language study program overseas in the country where the language is spoken.

-I'd pair up foreign languages and area studies with “project management” or “teaching” or “religious studies” or something that has actual job market value.

-I'd keep mechanical engineering and computer engineering, but would focus on training generalists rather than specialists, because today's machines will be gone in 2040.

-Medical and para-medical majors should of course stay the way they are.

-I'd add majors for the following: disaster management, security studies, small business ownership and humanitarian action. Those majors tend not to exist or to be unpopular, when they are in demand.  

-In sum, I'd get rid of basket weaving and anthropology and save those for those who want to specialize, as in doing doctoral research on the topic.

-Main point: reforming the liberal arts. I'd have five main majors in the liberal arts, matching the realities of the job market: teaching, journalism and media and entertainment content creation, religious studies, and project management.

-But I'd focus on training generalists. You don't want “kindergarten education” majors when the graduates end up wanting to teach high school.

-Why? Because with the current system, you have guys who get degrees in sociology or history or literature. Their majors don't have a teaching component, don't have a religious component, don't have a journalistic or writing component. Plus journalism isn't just about Jane Austen and Ernest Hemingway, there's a lot more to journalism.

-So you have guys studying anthropology so they can spread the Gospel in Latin America, when their majors don't have the religious and Bible studies component. Or guys who become teachers when they studied history in college but were never taught how to handle a 50 minute class with fidgety middle school kids.

-Problem with the current system: you have anthropology professors who want to continue teaching in an anthropology department, want to teach specialized anthropology, and do not want their jobs to involve teaching anthropology 101 to religious studies or education majors.

-The great thing about the North American system is that there are courses called “electives.” But the electives should be about supply AND demand, especially when you have kids breaking the piggy bank to study. You can't have professor John Doe being interested in Ethiopian architecture imposing a class on that, and students being forced to take a class on that, otherwise professor John Doe will fail them at next semester's required class. Can't work like that no more.

-Point is, rather than training students that are way too specialized in areas that have no job market value, I'd group up all the majors under the umbrella of a specialization that has great job market value.

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