As STEM fields and careers become increasingly essential every year, a greater number of college students choose science-based majors and corresponding minors. However, with the onset of a STEM revolution in higher education, students often overlook the importance of humanities and non-science degrees to an effective, well-rounded workforce. Let’s explore some unexpected liberal arts minors for science-minded students and how they can integrate the best of both academic worlds.
For writing and communicating your findings
As any scientist would confirm, a large part of their career is communicating their findings. There’s no point in absorbing or creating knowledge if it can’t be transferred into sources for other people—scientists or otherwise—to learn from. Responding to this demand of STEM communication are two interesting minors: Journalism and Communication.
In a world where everyday people are becoming more involved with global science issues, it’s important for scientists of all kinds to present their information on a less complex, publicly appeasing, yet understandable level. A Journalism or Communication minor could foster this ability in all types of scientists: students majoring in Biology, Chemistry, Neuroscience, Earth Science, and more could all benefit from a Journalism minor. After all, as Robert Boyce once said, knowledge is power, but knowledge shared is power multiplied.
Though often paired with majors like Political Science or English, Journalism helps students learn how to communicate their ideas and discoveries with people who have less scientific knowledge than them and people outside of their academic field. For instance, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, epidemiologists worked hand-in-hand with newspapers, media channels, and other journalists to help normal civilians understand the science behind the rather complicated microbiology concepts. In addition, many climate change activists advocate for the Earth’s health through advertisements and articles via news outlets and social media websites alike.
While a Journalism minor can teach students how to write information for those with little prior knowledge, a Communication minor teaches students how to share that information with those who need to be on the same page as them. All types of workplaces require communication specialists to keep employees informed about professional agendas, office updates, and countless other coordinated activities. Regardless of whether it’s a microbiology lab working on a common research topic or a publication company needing to gather its editors, a Communication minor and that knowledge of shared information can be priceless to people of all fields.
For becoming more socially aware and politically savvy
We live in a society that’s becoming increasingly political in all aspects by the day. Changes in politics impact how everyday people live, how scientists can use their research to apply to real communities, and how new discoveries can be taken beyond the lab for monetization and expansion. It would be extremely useful for more science majors to take on minors in Nonprofit Studies, Political Science, or Public Policy in hopes of becoming more socially aware and, perhaps, a more strategic scientist.
Much of the suffering modern world would benefit from new humane machines, inventions, and tools. For example, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation recently launched a Reinvent the Toilet Challenge for engineers and innovators across the world to improve bathroom sanitation in underprivileged areas. This is just one of the endless social problems that Engineering and Environmental Science majors could use their background in science to solve. However, along with the innovation, it’s incredibly important for these inventors to have a thorough knowledge of how to get their products to the needy and sustain their help over the long term. In situations like this, a Nonprofit Studies minor would equip students majoring in Engineering or Earth and Environmental Sciences with the ability to take their degree a step further and understand how people can not only purchase and monetize but also sustain a quality human life from their research and innovations.
Political Science and Public Policy
Fields such as Biology, Chemistry, and Global Climate Science often require individuals to work hand-in-hand with government officials and agencies. Whether it’s epidemiologists rolling out vaccines during the COVID-19 pandemic, nuclear chemists trying to establish a new power plant, or climate change experts lobbying against fossil fuel usage, scientists who find themselves in such crosshairs of critical research and government processes would greatly benefit from Political Science or Public Policy minors. Expanding lab research to a whole nation requires knowledge of the political climate, current public leaders’ willingness to pass bills, and the necessary steps to pass legislation that uses scientific research to help the masses. Political Science and Public Policy minors provide science majors with exactly this type of thorough policy and legal knowledge.
Clearly, STEM students and professionals can benefit from so much more than scientific knowledge. What may be considered unusual minors with these STEM majors can actually equip individuals with the humanities education they need to take their research and discoveries a step beyond the lab and miles beyond the world of just science. As Steve Jobs once said, “Combine science and humanities” using minors in your college degree and enjoy the fruition of science expanded to its boundaries.
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