Area 3- Arts and Humanities is a requirement for transfer under the Intersegmental General Education Transfer Curriculum (IGETC) in Merced College. This means that a student has to undertake a series of Arts and Humanities courses within the college to satisfy freshman general education requirements before the transfer to most colleges and majors in Californian University campuses. The Arts and Humanities programs have been credited with providing a broad-based educational program whereby students are challenged to view the world from different perspectives. Students are further challenged to think globally and recognize their roles towards environmental sustainability and civic engagement. The foundation of these courses allows the student to build a more specialized and advanced skill in every certificate, minor and major program. A significant proportion of business leaders and educational professionals globally recognize such an approach of a broad-based education. The approach further provides personal and professional growth and intellectual flexibility. It is for such reasons Area 3- Arts and Humanities are a requirement in Merced college. This paper will critically evaluate an argument why Merced College should not get rid of Area 3- Arts and Humanities requirement for transfer under IGETC. It will further provide a counter-argument for a reason.
A critical argument for Arts and Humanities as a requirement is that humanities are responsible for preparing a student to fulfill their civic and cultural responsibilities. Arts and humanities have been credited with instilling well educated, cultured and useful citizens. This is because humanities courses provide an insightful and critical understanding of ideological, political, ethical and moral forces. An equitable and prosperous society often depends on generosity, compassion, civility and charity. Humanities regularly critically evaluate and emphasize the importance of these characteristics. Literature which is part of Humanities can be used as an effective tool to mold the character of an individual. It is for this reason a distinguished professor of ethics and culture Thomas Hibbs supports the fact that “Stories, whether in print or film can serve an important role in moral education”(1). He further provides case examples in literature such as Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and more recent literature such as J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books which can play a critical role in the development of moral imagination. Such narratives in the literature can assist a student in dealing with problems in their contemporary moral dilemmas. Rowling’s Harry Potter books often engage its readers in several lessons regarding ethical choices and characters in their plots.
Similar to how humanities provide an insight into the moral and ethical issues, liberal arts are often credited with instilling aesthetic values to an individual. Liberal arts is a significant and critical preparation for most careers primarily in the current world driven by a global technology. Since the future of a country such as the United States incorporates a great deal of mastering how technology interacts with how human beings work, live and play a skill fostered by liberal arts, its skill would be advantageous. Liberal arts would be critical in the development of key skills such as aesthetic sensibility, creativity, psychological, political and social insight. Most scholars also believe that merging perspectives on liberal arts and science, technology, engineering and math(STEM) majors would be critical to innovation. It is for this reason why Mark Zuckerberg the CEO of Facebook supports the fact that creativity and innovation would occur. Steve Jobs credits a course in calligraphy responsible for the aesthetics of the MAC computer. As he unveiled the new edition of the IPad, Steve Jobs remarked that “It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough. It’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the result that makes our hearts sing” (Bast et al., 75). For this reason, Arts and Humanities courses play a critical role in technology hence should not be removed as a requirement for transfer under IGETC.
Merced college should also not get rid of the arts and humanities courses as humanities courses play a critical role in creative ideas and great minds outside of science. History and biography literature play a pivotal role in understanding human nature and society. Both history and biography literature play an essential role in introducing us to ideas and thoughts further from our specialist areas. This can further assist us in enhancing our creative thinking and finding new directions. Through reading and writing of different books, mainly on humanities subjects can result in the exploration of their intellectual freedom. It is for this reason scholars such as Chris Crutcher supports that “school libraries should not restrict access to any books” especially in arts and humanities courses (Crutcher 1). This is because reading books “encourage [adolescents] to stand up for [their] own intellectual freedom; to choose what [they] want to read about and talk about and explore” (Crutcher 2). For this reason, information acquired from reading books especially in humanities assists a student to develop the skills necessary for survival in their careers. Humanities courses can also provide an insight into human nature and the scientific study of nature.
The study of humanities can improve our communication skills consequently enabling us to work with others harmoniously. There are often stereotypes held by socially awkward individuals often regarded as Geeks as being unable to communicate their ideas succinctly. A significant portion of scholars studied the old classical liberal arts as it enhanced their ability to work with others harmoniously as well as communicate effectively orally and in writing. Geeks often express their ideas in a manner which may be viewed as out of the norm by most individuals. Their artistic expressions often break new ground and may be viewed by others as a provocation of the norm. It is for this reason scholars such as Robert Brustein support these artistic expressions. He remarks that “It is the obligation of a democratic society, however, to protect the magical idea from those who would politicize it into a program or a slogan. And that means, of course, giving support to legitimate visionary artists, no matter how offensive their works may seem to certain organized coalitions” (Brunstein 3). The fact that he views the society as democratic is evident that studying art enables us to work with others harmoniously.
The study of arts is essential as it enhances our creative thinking skills. Visual arts with other forms of arts has especially been credited with improving our performance in creative and critical thinking. Visual arts are uniquely linked to creative thinking as compared to other forms of art such as verbal. Charles Krauthammer supports the idea that Arts has changed radically in the recent past. Charles remarks that “It was once the function of the artist to represent beauty and transcendence the quality or state of rising above or going beyond the limits of and possibly introduce it into the life of the beholder”( Krauthammer 3). He further states that “With the advent of photography and film, the perfect media for both representation and narration, art has fought its dread of obsolescence by seeking some other role” (Krauthammer 3). This transformation which has been going on for decades develop some skill and craft to its user. With these skills, the student may apply them to creative and critical thinking in all spheres of life including their careers.
Humanities subjects would also be necessary for instilling emotional intelligence, data and skills especially to managers in technological companies. Most technological companies such as Google and video game manufacturers have realized that the computing aspect isn’t as relevant as the data, skills and emotional intelligence. They have begun measuring elements such as emotional and social intelligence especially for managers which can be established in individuals who have some knowledge of humanities. Computer games can also be recognized as an art. It is for this reason why scholars such as Henry Jenkins remark that “video games must be taken seriously as an art because they exhibit the artistic capabilities of computer technology”(Jenkins 1). Jenkins further points out that “computer games are art—a popular art, an emerging art, a largely unrecognized art, but art nevertheless” (Jenkins 1). Video games can be classified as a modern art since they reflect our everyday lives embraced by the average citizens. They can also be classified as an art since they have a cultural impact since they involve the creation of ethical and diverse content which is emotionally engaging. Arts and humanities are hence critical in spurring emotional intelligence and creativity.
A critical counterargument to the necessity of Arts and Humanities as a requirement is the fact that a student is often forced to pay for courses they don’t necessarily need or won’t utilize in their careers. Payment of extra classes only results in the addition of college debt as it is often impossible for a student to complete a college degree without debt acquisition. The National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) which significantly contributes to the study of arts in colleges has been significantly reducing its assistance over the years. William Craig Rice identifies that the NEA supports Arts in two ways: “direct funding and less tangible, indirect services”(Rice 1). Direct funding incorporates cash awards to arts organizations including colleges and sponsoring of events. The agency funds appropriation has been on a decline over the years. For instance, Craig identifies that, “The agency’s federal appropriation in 1996 fell by one-third, from about $150 million to about $100 million, and its appropriation may be cut again or even eliminated” (1). As the funds are reduced, this means less appropriation to colleges offering arts course. This, in turn, means students have to pay for the arts courses which they may never utilize in their lifetime.
In conclusion, the paper establishes Area 3-Arts and humanities courses are vital in providing a broad-based education. They also help students to see the world from different perspectives. The most prominent arguments for their study is the fact that they prepare students to fulfill their civic and cultural responsibilities, they provide an insight to moral and ethical issues and the fact they play a critical role in critical and creative thinking. Their study can also be supported by the fact that they instill emotional intelligence, data and skills. One major pitfall for the study of Arts and Humanities is the fact that a student may be forced to pay for a course they may never utilize in their lifetime. In as much as it is a significant disadvantage, the advantages far outweigh the delimitation. For this reason, Merced College should not get rid of Area 3- Arts and Humanities requirement for transfer under IGETC.
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