The Liberal Arts? Don’t Bother

A few weeks ago, Florida’s Governor Rick Scott proposed cutting the funding for liberal arts programs in his state’s public universities.  His predictable argument, guaranteed to inflame those of us who know better, goes like this:  the only students worth hiring are science, technology and math grads; the liberal arts are frivolous.   Governor Scott…

What Managers Want: Three Advantages for Liberal Arts Students

Recently, I attended a session where psychologist Ken Nowack talked about the ins and outs of management feedback at work.  Dr. Nowack’s research looks into how managers and supervisors who deliver feedback badly can actually cause physical harm to the employees they’re criticizing or advising.  Study after study proves that how feedback is delivered directly…

Liberal Arts “Skills”: What Are They?

In our culture, we believe that personal development is a matter of acquiring skills.  The more skills you acquire, the more capable you are.  We identify just about everything as a “skill”—basic motor skills, interpersonal skills, supervisory skills, negotiating skills, presentation skills, parenting skills, carpentry skills, sewing skills, culinary skills, social media skills. (Frankly, I…

The Liberal Arts and “Leadership”

  We hear this over and over:  humanities and social sciences majors are developing what in today’s employment parlance are known as “leadership skills.”  This phrase describes a collection of characteristics and abilities that employers are desperate to find in both candidates and employees.   But the phrase is a little misleading.  That word—“leadership”—suggests being…

Planning Ahead?

I talked this week with Diana Patten, Director of Career Services and Internships at Coe College in Cedar Rapids, Iowa.  Their term just ended, and commencement was last weekend. “We call this our ‘breathing week,’” she said, with relief.  Aaaah, yes.  Breathe in, breathe out. Then what?  Start planning for fall! How will you inspire…

Why I Do What I Do

Someone asked me the other day why I do what I do, why I work with students, speak on campuses, research and write about the usefulness of the liberal arts in business, why I offer consulting services—all to connect liberal arts students with careers in business. I have two answers to that question: 1)       There’s never been…

The Liberal Arts: Slow Boat on a Long Voyage

At Whittier College, Director of Career Planning and Internships Linda Ross told me a scary story, the kind of story I can picture liberal arts students sharing around a campfire after all the marshmallows are roasted.  It goes like this: Fifty graduate students at a nearby university, pursuing master’s degrees in something like “Student Affairs,”…