American Anthropological Association (AAA) Responds to Gov. Scott’s Attack on Anthropology

Recently, Florida Governor Rick Scott lodged an attack on liberal arts education, specifically setting his crosshairs on the study of Anthropology.

“If I’m going to take money from a citizen to put into education, then I’m going to take that money to create jobs,” Mr. Scott told the paper. “So I want that money to go to degrees where people can get jobs in this state. Is it a vital interest of the state to have more anthropologists? I don’t think so.”

The good governor clearly overlooked the reports that demonstrate that liberal arts majors can and do have jobs in a wide myriad of fields or go on to graduate degrees in Law, Education, and even the ‘hard sciences’ like medicine. A broad, liberal arts education prepares individuals for the critical analysis required in many fields, from marketing to ‘hard science.’ Broad studies indicate that it’s not the field of study that ultimately matters, but the exercise of earning the degree.

The American Anthropological Association has issued a formal rebuttal to the governor here:

8 thoughts on “American Anthropological Association (AAA) Responds to Gov. Scott’s Attack on Anthropology

  1. Steve Griffin (@CuttingEdgeHist)

    If anthro majors don’t get jobs in the anthro field then isn’t the governor sort of right? Wouldn’t prelaw be a better major for future law students? Or at least one that the government might be asked to subsidy. Anthropology is important, but maybe it is irresponsible for the government to subsidize degrees in a field with a glut of recent graduates.

    Reply
      1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

        No worries. I often have no excuse for my typos. This time, I’m blaming it on typing on my iPad ;)

      2. Jennifer Lockett Post author

        Thank you for participating and meaningfully contributing to the conversation.

    1. Jennifer Lockett Post author

      One thing to keep in mind is that at many universities, “pre-law,” like “pre-med,” is not a major in and of itself. It is a post-degree path. Interestingly, most lawyers come from the “soft sciences,” in luring anthropology. Heck, one could point out the number of out of work and/or struggling attorneys – as we admit and graduate them en masse. Architects are also experiencing a +50% unemployment rate. His remarks are on the basis of the idea that university education is career training – it is not. Liberal arts majors generally do not work directly in their major. However, their earning potential over their career life is equal to those in the “hard sciences.” Just as most English majors do not become writers or English teachers, most anthropology majors do not directly become anthropologists. The merit of the degree is not job training – eliminating the ability of individuals to pursue intellectual endeavors or further development of critical thinking skills is a dangerous endeavor. Attack on “intellectuals” has historically never had a positive income and often underlines nefarious motives. I have no more problem with the state underwriting liberal arts than I do them underwriting lawyers, doctors, software engineers (1,400 layoffs in that division in my town over the next year), or auto mechanics.

      Reply
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