August 18, 2019
These are terms used in a number of universities in the United States to distinguish between people in the humanities and those in technology. One is “techie” if he does computers, technology, engineering and other hard sciences. The “fuzzies” are those engaged in social sciences, languages and the humanities.
Today’s techno-centric panorama purportedly muffs the social sciences. Fields of work, professions, even passion of people are framed according to the imposing presence and seduction of technology. This could explain the recent surge of enrollees in almost all educational institutions on the strand of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) than of the humanities.
That this techno-centric era, however, appears to be an adjutant of a neoliberalist philosophy can tell us another thing. Klaus Schwab, the founder and chairman of World Economic Forum, observes that the impact of the Fourth Industrial Revolution is the drawing back of the human person from his fixation on performing mechanical functions.
Schwab advises that “leaders and citizens should go together to shape a future that works for all by putting people first, empowering them and constantly reminding ourselves that all of these new technologies are first and foremost tools made by people for people.”
Clark Kerr, the founder of the University of California public university system, echoes the same outlook: “Liberal arts education serves as the soul of the university.” Such education may not provide all the figures, data and technical solutions to one’s practical problems but it addresses the development in a person of introspection and the deepening of one’s sense of humanity by way of interpretation, meaning making and the sense of valuing. Human flourishing has since been guided by philosophy, literature and ethics.
Scott Hartley, in his book The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the liberal arts will rule the digital world, explains that “in the counter intuitive reality of business today, it is actually the fuzzies and not the techie who are playing the key roles in developing the most creative and successful new business ideas.”
Fuzzies are often the ones who understand the life issues that need solving and offer the best approaches to do so. They question the bias in big data, bring context to code and ethics to algorithms. They humanize technology in an attention-hungry world. They bring forth and implement management and communication skills that are vital to spurring growth. Thus, liberal arts education, even in a world increasingly accustomed to technology, computer software and technological breakthroughs, will never be out of place.
Recently, the country saw debates on a Commission on Higher Education (CHEd) memorandum that dropped the subjects Filipino and Panitikan from the core subjects in college. The Supreme Court has decided on it. But there are still objections. Hopefully, the instructors and professors protesting the Supreme Court decision and the CHEd implementation are driven, not by economic purposes as dictated by neoliberal sentiments, but by the genuine regard for human flourishing.
Jesus Jay Miranda, OP is the Secretary-General of the University of Santo Tomas. He holds a doctorate in Educational Leadership and Management (ELM) and teaches at the Graduate School of UST and the ELM Department of the Bro. Andrew Gonzalez, FSC–College of Education of De La Salle University-Manila. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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