The Balance of Liberal Arts and STEM Degrees - Discussions over curriculum focus

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Caspian Riverstone Aug 16 0

The Symmetry of Liberal Arts and STEM

Being Caspian and entirely engrossed in the academia my entire life has brought me through the trials and tribulations, the ins and outs, and a gamut of intellectual pursuits that ultimately brings us here. Face to face with what could be seen as a tug of war in the academia world: the unending debate between Liberal Arts and STEM degrees. It was like watching my two children, Luther and Beryl, squabble over which colour is better: red or blue. Not an easy debate, and honestly, not one that has a clear cut answer. But hey, that's what makes it fun!

The academic landscape presents itself as a beautiful cornucopia of knowledge, where students can dive deep into their passions, whether that’s philosophy, geography, botany, or computer science. Academia is a vast ocean, and for many, the choice of their focus could be as simple as flipping a coin. But wait, this isn't your standard 'head or tails' kind of game. The coin is a roulette wheel filled with a wealth of degree choices, ranging from a degree in English Literature to one in Astrophysics.

The beauty about academics, though, is the knowledge that there’s no wrong choice. Every choice is a right one – as long as it’s a decision the student is passionate about. So let’s agree on that from the get-go, regardless of whether it’s Liberal Arts or STEM. They're both like making a fantastic dinner—you need different dishes to make the meal complete. Laksa and Pavlova anyone?

Fusion of the Left and Right Brains

Just like a perfect meal that needs variety, balance is the key when it comes to academic disciplines. On one hand, you have Liberal Arts teasing the mind, tugging at heartstrings, and essentially managing to journey the soul to understand humanity, art, culture, and society. Much like the rustling leaves carried by the wind during Adelaide’s autumn, Liberal Arts sway our minds towards creativity, empathy, and critical thinking.

On the other hand, STEM takes us on a journey akin to embarking on a mission to Mars, where the resilience of rocket engines, the precision of telemetry, and the thrill of discovery takes precedence. Mathematics, computer programming, physics – these disciplines propel us towards analytical thought, empirical reasoning, and a solid, problem-solving mindset. It's like when Luther solves his Rubik's Cube in record time—one needs logic, precision, and a methodical approach.

So, the real question isn’t 'which one is better,' but rather, 'how can these disciplines complement each other to mould an all-rounded individual?' Now, that question has a much sweeter taste. Kind of like how Adelaide’s famous Haigh's Chocolates complements a cup of strong flat white. Let's break it down.

An Intricate Web of Soft and Hard Skills

What if I told you that people often miss the big picture when drawing lines in the sand between Liberal Arts and STEM? It's like arguing over whether footy or cricket is the better sport. Both are thrilling, requires strategy and dexterity, and of course, both games are played with balls, albeit differently shaped ones! So here's something interesting: The skillset obtained in either discipline is more interweaved with the other than most realise. Seriously, it's like finding out your Vegemite toast tastes surprisingly delightful with avocado! Hear me out.

Take a history major from the Liberal Arts camp for instance. This individual learns the art of processing complex theories, digesting voluminous information and presenting it in a clear, concise manner. They cultivate the soft skills of critical thinking, empathy, and focusing on the 'human' aspect of the argument. Now, imagine this historian steeped into the technological world, a realm traditionally overseen by STEM. They bring along this inherent understanding of humans, of societies and with that lens, they view technology differently. Maybe they could come up with more humane algorithms or maybe they make AI not just intelligent, but also culturally aware. Exciting, right?

Conversely, an engineer in the world of Liberal Arts might bring about a more methodological review of art, approach the subject from the point of view of logic and rationality, and ultimately bridge the gap between scientific, logical thought and artistic interpretation. Imagine pairing the science of acoustics with the magic of music—it's like a duet that gets you swaying and awestruck all at once! There is undeniable beauty when the lines blur between these disciplines, and they mix to form a masterpiece that captivates the intellectual audience from both arenas.

Marriage of Multidisciplinary Thinking

There is a growing trend to combine liberal arts and STEM, forming interdisciplinary degrees that provide a holistic approach towards education. Did you know that Steve Jobs, who pretty much brought about the personal computing revolution, famously remarked that technology alone is not sufficient? Indeed, it's technology married with liberal arts, with humanities, that yields the results. So here we have, from the horse's mouth, that the real mover and shaker of the tech world believed in this beautiful unity!

Yet, it's worth remembering that this 'choice' stems from an overarching aim - to learn, to gain knowledge, and to develop an intellectually curious mind. Whether hailing from Liberal Arts or STEM, an individual can bring skillsets to the table that not only nourish their intellect but also bring about innovation and novel perspectives to their job or studies. All in all, it's about balance. It's about understanding the strengths each discipline brings and finding a middle ground where fusion leads to evolution.

As an advocate of learning, I encourage young minds (hey, and the more experienced ones too!) to explore the vast avenues these disciplines offer, to create their symphony of knowledge. So, as you warm up to university applications or even course selections, remember that both Liberal Arts and STEM hold unique journeys of discovery. It's like choosing between hitting up the sun-kissed beaches of Adelaide or exploring its artsy laneways. They're both incredibly fulfilling experiences. You just need to lace up those boots and take that first step!

But keep in mind, you don't have to limit yourself to just one choice.(Yes, I'm looking at you, undecided students!) Be curious, venture out from your comfort zone, and remember that the yin and yang of these different disciplines could result in a learning experience beyond your wildest dreams. Here's to blurring lines and creating ripples in the academic debate, one degree choice at a time. Cheers!

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