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Game Changers 2019 – Essay Series

Game Changers 2019 – Essay Series

The Rise and Fall and Rise of the Liberal Arts.

Bracken Darrell, President and CEO, Logitech

Every trend has a counter trend.

U.S. STEM education is certainly not adequate. And coders are needed like rain in the desert: the growth today in software majors doesn’t seem to even begin to fill the shortfall.

But as more students adopt STEM majors, watch for a shift. Liberal arts (including writing, performing, philosophy, ethical and moral thinking, art, and more) will become vital to so many careers in the future. That future has started.

Why?

Today so many new jobs at Alphabet, Amazon, Facebook, Apple, Microsoft, and even little Logitech are engineering roles. Software/hardware needs are accelerating down humanity’s roller coaster ride into the high tech future.

But … more jobs are coming for liberal arts lovers, content creators, and performers. It’s happening already. Full time. Half time. Part time. Sometime.

Technology is enabling “the great creation age.” We can reach others in previously unimaginable ways at startling scales. Or we can create for just a few, intimately, as we have always done.

In addition, that bottomless need for coding won’t keep growing unabated. Software engineering will move to lower cost countries; be dramatically simplified; and software will write itself. Oh, there will be a lot of STEM jobs for sure!

But more and more people will create. Content.

The job explosion of the future … full time, part time, most of the time. Creators will be in a “work-from-anywhere,” create your business,
everyone monetize, Uber-meets-creation sharing mindset economy. (Sorry, mom, that was a terrible sentence!)

So, is the only way to be a writer, blogger, broadcaster, creator, performer is to be a liberal arts major? NO. But these platforms unleash those who first love to create, perform, or engage from a broad liberal arts background.

Of course I know I’m writing this from Silicon Valley. It’s not STEM versus liberal arts.

As liberal arts learners incorporate STEM and STEM majors incorporate the liberal arts (during or after their formal education), neither will dominate. This isn’t new: was Steve Jobs a STEM or liberal artisan?

Now let’s consult an expert on creation. In the classic Dr. Seuss story, the Sneetches all look the same (differently alike) except some have starred bellies.

The star-bellied Sneetches feel superior. They work and play together. The starless sneetches suffer.

Then an entrepreneur arrives. He offers to apply stars to anyone’s belly for a mere $5. The non star-bellied Sneetches line up and away he goes making money and changing lives. Before you know it, it’s completely unclear who was originally a star-bellied Sneetch and who wasn’t.

Next, he brings a new innovation: star removal. Now cool people want theirs removed and again innovation creates mayhem.

The Sneetches realize they are all the same and the stars lose significance.

So I predict it will be with STEM and the liberal arts. Today, the “in” crowd is STEM. One day soon liberal arts will be cool.

And we will all be STE(A)M.

As STEM rises, the rise of liberal arts has begun. Instead of STEAM, maybe we should call it Science kNowledge Engineering Arts
E Technology Creation Humanities … SNEATCH.

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