"Why Malia Obama should study art history"
Last January, President Obama ruffled the bowties of art historians across the country when he disparaged the discipline, telling a room of General Electric workers that “folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.” He meant that learning a skilled trade is both commendable and economically beneficial. But he’s since apologized for dissing art history. With Malia Obama heading to college next fall, we wanted to toss a query of national importance out into the election ether: Should Malia Obama major in art history? Put more broadly: What’s the value of an art history degree in society today?To be fair, the former President isn't the first and neither last to disparage art history degrees.
Perhaps sensing the presence of a foot in his mouth, the president quickly backtracked during his speech. “Nothing wrong with an art history degree,” he added. “I love art history. So I don’t want to get a bunch of emails from everybody.” But get a bunch of emails from everybody he did. The president had unwittingly set off an important debate over the value of the humanities, and, more crucially, how one actually determines “value” in relation to the critical thinking skills instilled by often-pricey liberal arts colleges and universities.