Humanities major decrease in time

When you talk to any given group of Gannon University students, chances are they’ll say they’re majoring in some kind of science. Humanities majors are hard to come by at Gannon.

But this university isn’t alone – it’s a trend throughout the United States.

Some people out there have mused about the topic, but the general consensus – at least on the Internet – has been that students these days want a sure future. Some of them at Gannon, though, might disagree.

Michael Latzer, an associate professor in Gannon’s philosophy program, said he thinks the lack of students studying humanities lies largely in the hands of employment.

“I have to think that a larger part of it is the completely natural desire to be employable in some kind of immediate way,” he said.

Latzer said he decided to study philosophy because that was the subject that held his interest. “I would say my academic strengths from way, way back were always in humanities, and it was pretty clear even by high school that the sciences were not going to be my thing,” he said. “So I really just went with the stuff I loved to do. Once I got to college and took philosophy in my freshman year, I recognized pretty early on that that was the discipline, more than any other, that grabbed me.”

For some students, though, it’s less about the subject that sparks interest and more about the desire for a particular career.

Senior physician assistant major Theresa Lohn said she chose her major because she didn’t want to be a doctor and she didn’t want to be a nurse. She wanted to do something in the health field that was in between those things. “I wanted to still be able to have hobbies,” she said.

Lohn said that one thing she really loves about her major is the field work she gets to do during her senior year. “I like going to see the patients,” she said. “It’s like putting a puzzle together; just like an election campaign.”

Lohn said that although she is studying in the health field, her dream is to run a national presidential election campaign.

She said that one of the several reasons she didn’t change her major to political science was because she was already too far along in the physician assistant program.

But she was quick to add that the experience she’s had in her major has been a great one. One of the best parts, she said, is that she has a great relationship with her adviser, Jennifer Majewski.

Katie Swaney, a junior English major, also said she has had a great experience in her major. She said she chose English because she loves reading. The fact that it doesn’t have a particular career attached to it, she said, is a good thing.

“I really just chose something I really loved instead of something that would just put me in a job right when I got out of school,” Swaney said.

“There’s a lot of different outlets that you can have with an English major. I mean, if I don’t go straight into publishing I could write, I could be a secretary, go into law… So there’s a lot of different ways you can use your English major to benefit you.”

Lohn said she can use her physician assistant major in a lot of ways, too. “You can switch whenever you want. So if you go into pediatrics and you don’t like it, you can switch to something else. You’re not stuck in one specialty like a doctor would be.”

Lohn said that she plans on working as a physician assistant while she pays off her student loans. Once they’re paid off, though, she said she’d like to go to law school and pursue her political dreams.

Swaney, meanwhile, said she wants to go into publishing. She said that she did kind of choose her major based on that goal, but it hadn’t been as focused as it is now.

“I really enjoy reading up to the point that I wanted to go into publishing a lot more, so I could do it all the time, and kind of focus on writing and stuff,” she said. “It kind of developed  through coming to school, especially taking the editing class with Mr. (Frank) Garland. Just moving more toward publishing in the fiction realm and everything like that.”

Latzer agreed that students are often career-oriented, but he said that shouldn’t discourage them from declaring a major in the humanities.

“There are plenty of interesting career paths that the humanities can take a person in,” he said. “They’re often not as direct as some of the sciences or business might seem to be, so they take a little more creativity in terms of carving a lucrative career path, or through further education and so forth.”

Swaney also encouraged students to take the leap. “All I can really say,” she said, “is it’s so much fun.”

 

KELLY MORELAND

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