The debate between STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors and humanities majors seems to be going strong, much to my dismay. Completing a major in neurobiology, while also having close to 60 credits of humanities classes, gives me a pretty unique perspective on the humanities versus STEM field debate. The argument for humanities is that they promote critical thinking and social awareness, but people seem to forget STEM fields are based on critical thinking.
I would challenge anyone to find a humanities class that requires more critical thinking than a neurology class examining mental illness, a chemistry class exploring the creation of new plastics or a physics class investigating propulsion techniques.
The fact is that STEM fields think critically all the time. In my opinion, they think critically at a far higher level than what a humanities course requires. Most importantly, they think critically about things that are far more important. I don’t think anyone could argue that the ability to write a song, paint a picture or analyze text would ever be as important as the ability to develop new medications, create new green technology or engineer safer buildings.
The biggest problems of our time — war, poverty, climate change, famine, etc. — will not be solved through philosophical debate or empathy. These problems will be solved by the most creative minds in higher education working together and thinking critically with all of the training a STEM major offers.
Erika Northcutt is a senior from Wichita studying neurobiology