The subtitle of Di Matteo's essay encapsulates her argument: "Support for Sciences Ignores the Benefits of Broader Education."
Basically, what she cautions is the gradual but steady decline of a society which ignores the arts in favor of sciences. It is difficult to measure the benefits of an education in the arts. Unlike an invention that can change the world or the price of a barrel of oil, there is no immediate or measurable standard by which to judge the success of artistic endeavors.
Still, we ignore arts education at our own peril, for, as Di Matteo says,
"Just as a vaccination benefits people other than those inoculated by reducing disease transmission, the humanities and social sciences have spill-over benefits by transmitting wisdom to society."
Aside from societal altruism, there are other good reasons cited for continuing to fund the arts in higher education. Among those reasons:
- While the sciences provide "technical solutions" to problems, "only individuals trained in human science can deal with the economic, ethical, cultural and social implications of these solutions"
- Liberal arts graduates are prized because of their ability to think creatively and laterally using skills acquired in analysis, synthesis, research and communication.
- Humanities and social science students make up approximately half of university enrollments.