Regarding the Feb. 28 news article “New UNC boss likes controlling the mic”: Urging voters to pass the bond referendum to grant more funds, in part, for the UNC system, Margaret Spellings has been arguing for UNC to be accessible to all North Carolinians. Great, I think, but what exactly does she mean?
In her 2006 Spellings report, she described the purpose of higher education as to endow skills that can be monetized. In other words, she favors fields such as business, health care sciences and engineering. Academic research for the sake of expanding knowledge should be abandoned as wasteful. The arts and humanities, always difficult to monetize, should be cut.
Yet the arts are central to any great civilization. England without Shakespeare would be just a damp and dreary island. Russia without Tchaikovsky would be as bleak as a Siberian winter. SoCal without Hollywood would be an insipid, expansive sand box.
The arts inspire us to see the familiar differently, to apply what is known in entirely novel ways. Creativity is at the heart of innovation.
As more jobs disappear to automation, a liberal arts education will become all the more invaluable, as it can foster innovation, communication skills and creative problem-solving.