Science In All Its Forms

The Editorial Board weighs in on the relative lack of attention paid to
social sciences and humanities majors at UCSD.

UCSD is a research institution. It was built as one and will always take pride in the achievements of its STEM alumni. However, when you read STEM, you imagine physicists, mathematicians and engineers hitting it up in Silicon Valley or in some other technological hub. It is telling that here at UCSD, someone had to plagiarize our UCSD Guardian cover just to make noise about a social science job fair. What does that say about social science (and humanities) recognition here at UCSD? Something needs to change.

Our A.S. Social Sciences Senators pride themselves on their achievements for each year. This past January, current senator Kim Hong introduced Social Science Day as one of her projects, to some success. Her biggest legacy, though, will be finally helping to create a business and a pre-law major at UCSD. These majors already exist in just about every big college in the country. Now, we do appreciate this achievement and we recognize the efforts necessary to make this work out. But is this it? The only notable action taken by the social sciences community at large in a full calendar year is creating two long-overdue majors that should have been there in the first place.

During Winter Quarter 2015, a technology job fair and social sciences job fair were organized at the same time in the Price Center Ballrooms. You can guess which one was packed to capacity. The social sciences organizations responsible for career development and resources need to communicate better with the student body about these job fairs, as well as organize more than just the occasional one. It would also be beneficial to create more university-funded and university-endorsed organizations and centers that are geared toward social sciences and humanities majors, just like the ones that exist for STEM majors.

This probably sounds like the age-old clash between tech-oriented majors and the humanities, but for the non-STEM students who pay the same tuition rates as everyone else and take the same amount of pride in their studies, it’s hard not to feel neglected to some degree by this university. Even more so, it would be erroneous to imply that the sciences and the humanities are mutually exclusive disciplines, as each has shaped the other in some way.

In fact, a recent Washington Post editorial titled “Why America’s Obsession with STEM Education is Dangerous” argues that sacrificing a liberal education means sacrificing exactly the kind of thinking that has generated the country’s great successes as a technological innovator. A job fair geared toward the social sciences would emphasize the importance of the broad education they provide, particularly regarding to how they can be applied to the tech industry. As the Washington Post pointed out, “Innovation is not simply a technical matter but rather one of understanding how people and societies work, what they need and want.”

There are, undoubtedly, an abundance of resources that can be made available for social science majors — it’s now a matter of making these readily accessible and publicized so that they, too, can receive support on the scale of campus organizations like DECaF and The Moxie Center. Individual academic departments do make some efforts, but coordinating together and working with A.S. Council and other campus organizations will ensure that outreach efforts will make a tangible impact on the student body.

We should celebrate the strengths that UCSD is known for, but no major should be left behind. The shortcomings these majors have faced in the past are still affecting how we view them. These days, it’s less what you know and more who you know. More efforts by the academic senators, as well as better outreach to the community, will improve UCSD’s ability to implement programs that cater to social science professional skills and networking.