Thursday, February 23, 2012
Job Preparation and the Liberal Arts: Journalism as a Model
It's always fun talking with Tim Francisco about education, especially the NewsOutlet.org, the project he runs with Alyssa Lenhoff. Yes, he's enthusiastic, but he's also very thoughtful about the goals and approach they're using. For me, the most impressive part of this project is its vision for what undergraduate education can accomplish by engaging students in challenging hands-on learning that is at once practical and intellectually-significant. I worry that our emphasis on higher education as workforce preparation leads us to make undergraduate programs focus more on skills than on critical thinking and that we encourage students to view anything that isn't part of their future job as irrelevant. We know that most undergraduates will not spend their entire working lives doing the jobs they trained for in college, so they need broader knowledge and skills, especially in gathering information, analyzing problems, and effective communication. Journalism can provide these skills, but a strong general education program and an emphasis on inquiry and problem solving within the major can do that for students in any field. So while I'm excited about how the approach taken by YSU's Journalism program works for their majors, I hope that other departments will embrace this model of combining job prep with a liberal arts approach.