Putting Education Reform To The Test

Feedback Loop: Anthropology 101

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A cat statue found on Key Marco in Southwest Florida.

Our story last week looking at Bureau of Labor Statistics data in the wake of Gov. Rick Scott’s criticism of anthropology majors generated more conversation than anything else we’ve done at StateImpact Florida.

Anthromajor, expressing the majority opinion, said the skills learned are not the domain of tweedy eggheads and translate to business:

I am an Executive Managing Director, Senior VP with a large real estate company in a major US city.  I possess a bachelor of science in Anthropology.  It was my education and training that helped me land a job in real estate years ago.  My employer noticed that my background could be helpful a multi-cultural environment.  Not only did my education help me attain an understanding of diverse cultures, the intense math and science courses prepared me to manage multi-million-dollar assets.

Noneofyourbusiness argued while growth in anthropology jobs was equal to other fields, science fields were producing many more jobs. Majors such as anthropology are subsidized by taxpayers.

Anthropology is objectively a drain on our society’s resources.  If you want to study something fine, but don’t ask others to pay for it.  FYI: people with degrees in STEM majors are also well rounded. Don’t alienate others with your condescending comments.  Your field of study IS generally useless.  Just try to blend in and stay under the radar of everyone else actually supporting society.

Anthropology grad Hanna, now working in the “real world,” wrote that anthropology and other fields reconsidering their mission would be healthy.

The reality of those faculties is that they waste enormous intellectual energies, students’ tuition and public dollars producing scholarship the sole intent of which is most often to impress other aloof anthropologists…

To realign our allocation of scarce resources for greater social value than anthropology departments provide would be good public policy.  It would ultimately be good for anthropology too.  Such a shift would send an informative signal to students wondering about the real-world usefulness of different fields of study.  It would save many young people from illusions that self-righteous hypocritical social criticism is a marketable skill.  And it would encourage anthropology department faculties themselves to undertake reflection about their own roles in university education and knowledge-generation for the 21st century.

Keep the comments and questions coming. Thanks for reading.

Reader reaction is an important part of building StateImpact Florida’s education coverage. Feedback Loop will be a regular feature highlighting your questions, criticisms and comments.


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