News from the “why don’t you all just get a real job” front. Who cares about anthropology? Who thinks that anthropology matters in the 21st century? Well, it’s definitely NOT Florida Governor Rick Scott. Yesterday, Governor Scott made his opinions about anthropology loud and clear during a radio interview:
We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. It’s a great degree if people want to get it, but we don’t need them here. I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on, those types of degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job.
Daniel Lende provides a good recap of the situation and some of the reactions with this mega-linked, all inclusive post. Jason Antrosio has also weighed in on the matter–his post also includes a link to the AAA response, which is here. Jason sees this as an opportunity to rally anthropologists:
Not only does this give anthropology an opportunity to emphasize our scientific side, it could also be a rallying point for social science and humanities disciplines that were equally dismissed. It seems worth mentioning that while Scott dismisses everyone except math-science-engineering, it is at a time when other countries are seeking the lifelong thinking and creativity developed in a Liberal Arts education.
In another piece, John Hawks discusses some of the possible avenues for responding to this debacle. How can or should anthropologists make their case? He writes:
It’s very difficult to come up with a rapid and effective reply from an organization or department, so I understand these aren’t as punchy as they might be. Still, it seems to me a vastly more effective response would describe the economic impact of anthropologists in Florida, the dollar amounts of federal and private grants they bring to Florida universities, their role as custodians of natural and cultural history, and their history of engagement with indigenous and immigrant peoples in the state.
One of Scott’s underlying arguments is that anthropology doesn’t produce JOBS, and this is an argument that seems to get a lot of mileage by certain folks who aren’t exactly fans of social science (Tom Coburn, anyone?). I am going to leave off with a few questions for all you Savage Minds out there: What do you think about this tactic of using jobs as the sole calculus for measuring the value of a discipline? Should anthropologists be completely focused on producing jobs, or are there other elements that matter in a valuable and worthwhile education? What about the value of teaching students how to think critically and holistically about the world around them? Why say you, readers?