Re: [xmca] University & Conformity

From: Andy Jocuns <jocunsa who-is-at>
Date: Wed May 28 2008 - 10:04:20 PDT


There is a lot going on with this. I think what they say is that
engineering is the liberal arts degree of the next century. There are two
senses of what they mean by "new liberal arts degree"; on the one hand
engineering is the new liberal arts degree in that it encompasses a wide
array of disciplines (mostly in some aspect of science or mathematics) and
on the other hand an engineering degree enables 'you' to do a lot of
different things (from desiging bombs to helping the environment, I hear a
lot of engineers are everywhere). In both cases engineering educators are
trying to sing the praises the of the field and that there will be jobs for
these students. There is a lot left out, you would think that ethics would
an important part of this "new liberal arts" that is 'science' based,
however as far as i understand most large engineering programs don't have an
ethics course as a requirement (i know of one that has a series of those
types of courses). most of these programs are so highly structured that a
typical student may have between one & three courses that are not math or
science in some manner. there has also been a lot of reference to engineers
and social concerns, when I looked into this it amounts (at some schools) to
teaching a communications course (technical writing) and learning how
interact socially to overcome stereotypes of engineers. when you pick apart
their metaphor they are singing the praises of their field yet they open the
door to a lot of criticism. don't get me wrong engineers are great, i have
met some wonderful students who are very intelligent and on their way into
this field. The issue is that most universities are pooring gobs of $ into
these programs and neglecting the old liberal arts degree in the process.


On Tue, May 27, 2008 at 9:27 PM, David Preiss <> wrote:

> Hi Andy,
> Any chance you could elaborate more about this "new liberal arts degree"
> idea? Sounds like it suggests more than what can be inferred from your post,
> David
> On May 27, 2008, at 11:51 AM, Andy Jocuns wrote:
> Hope I am not replying to this one too late, but Mike's observations
>> really
>> strike a chord with me. Particularily observation #1 which sums up my
>> undergrad experience @ Penn State. I have to say that I feel like I did
>> not
>> learn how to learn until I got grad school. Yeah there were things that
>> interested me that I retained for my own purposes but the assessments in
>> general were pretty bad. My lack of interest in memorizing random tidbits
>> of
>> a textbook reminded me too much of basic training, which when i was
>> undergrad i was trying to forget. Sadly I remember more from my military
>> experience -- though that's a different story.
>> Right now I am on a project which is studying engineering undergrads, and
>> I
>> am often struck by how engineering educators suggest that an engineering
>> degree is the "new liberal arts degree". There seems to be a few meanings
>> attached to this phrase, but it gets under my skin how much the "old
>> liberal
>> arts degree" means little of anything anymore. In order to do anything
>> with
>> such a degree, you need to have some graduate degree. So how and when did
>> the bachelor's degree become so proletarian? It seems you can say the same
>> about a master's degree as well now.
>> andy
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Received on Wed May 28 10:05 PDT 2008

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