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Changes in Higher Learning - Research Proposal Example

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In the paper “Changes in Higher Learning” the author compares separate research by two authors with regard to the shift which has led to diverted focus from arts to professional fields and humanities such as business. Some of the issues raised included career demands and economic crisis…
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Changes in Higher Learning
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Changes in Higher Learning The recent years have received noticeable changes in higher education. Even as new industries emerge, there has been a shift in the courses being offered in institutions of higher learning. This change has led to the death of some majors that were in the past considered highly important and were covetable. For instance, the shift has led to diverted focus from arts to professional fields and humanities such as business. On comparing separate research by two authors with regard to this shift, several interesting contributors of this shift came up. Some of the issues raised included career demands and economic crisis.
The need to relate the course done and accompanying careers has been termed as one of the main contributors of this great shift. For instance Zernike argues that both parents and students are very focused on the career before even enrolling to institutions of higher learning (2009, para.4). This implies that there is great emphasis and increased focus on what specific majors translate to in terms of a job. The increased concentration on careers that follow after college education has led to abandonment of some majors, mainly arts, which cannot be easily related to the desired careers. As a result of this abandonment, institutions have also started changing and focusing more on professional majors. According to Breneman’s research many arts colleges were shifting attention and focusing more on professional fields (Baker, Baldwin and Makker 2012, para. 4). This implies that some majors may totally be forgotten in the future if this shift continues.
The shift to professional fields could be greatly be attributed to economic changes and need for more finances. Liu, et al. argued that many students are more concerned about well-paying jobs hence increased focus on professional job as opposed at arts that may arguably be seen to basically provide meaningful philosophies of life (qtd. in Baker, Baldwin and Makker 2012, para.5). Zernike echoes this basing her argument on a survey carried out by the University of California that showed a great shift of focus on comparing student’s goals in 1971 and 2009. “In 2009, 78 percent of freshmen students were more focused on wealth while only 48 percent were after meaningful philosophy as opposed to 1971 where only 37 percent were focused on wealth while 73 percent were focused on meaningful philosophy” (2009, para.7). This focus change can be attributed to the increased disinterest in arts and applied sciences such as philosophy that had much attention in the past.
Who or what is to blame for the death of liberal arts? What can be done to prevent a further shift from liberal arts? Liberal arts played an important role in diversifying the American higher education and made it stronger. According to Baker, Baldwin and Makker, exit of liberal arts from the education system may lead to loss of “an influential ‘test kitchen’ for innovation in undergraduate education or, perhaps, become too peripheral to play a leadership role” (2012, para.7). Therefore, it is important to ensure that arts are not entirely forgotten. Other than changes in students demand, some institutions attributed the changes to budgetary cuts (Zernike 2009, para.12). This implies that in order to save liberal arts there is need to try and acquire a favorable economy. Actually, increased focus on finances may be attributed to economic demands. Due to the increased cost of living, people are more focused on making money in order to thrive well in the tight economy. Balancing returns obtained from all careers may help to prevent decline of liberal arts.
In conclusion, the two authors are in agreement and express their concerns about the increasing decline in numbers of students showing interest in art majors. There is pressing need for policy makers and stakeholders in the higher education system to address these issues and come up with appropriate measures to ensure that liberal arts do not totally get depleted.
Works Cited
Baker, Vicki, Roger Baldwin and Sumedha Makker. “Where Are They Now? Revisiting Breneman’s Study of Liberal Arts Colleges” Association of American Colleges and Universities, 2012 98.3. Print.
Zernike, Kate. “Making College ‘Relevant’”. The New York Times, 29 December 2009. Read More
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