Image by Rutu Modan Image Source
As a university student, most of my friends and acquaintances identify themselves according to their program of study. Psychology students, engineering students, business students and political science students (just to name a few) are all very different people, with very different outlooks on life. As young adults, our minds are being shaped according to the lenses through which we are taught to see: schools of thought in social sciences (Freudian psychology, Liberalism, Positivism etc.), free market ideologies in business, and mathematical analyses in sciences. We rarely stop to questions these “lenses” and trade them in for a more realistic and current take on issues. These types of vocational studies have done much to form us, but are simultaneously discouraging us from looking outward for information, and are creating separations between young people based on their field of study.
Our tendencies to devote almost every part of our being to what we study (or what job we have) is increasingly making us feel more comfortable in our complacency. A journalism student, for example, is the only type of person likely to make a habit of watching the news daily, and to care about the state of our democracy is only a trait shared by politics students.
Vocational schooling methods have removed us from the idea that on top of formal education there is self-education; the opportunity to learn by our own initiative, to read the news (and several sources at that) and to take a critical look at the institutions and people who govern our surroundings.
Ethics and consideration for social issues and current events have a place in all disciplines. Adbusters has made one of their most important campaigns, Kick It Over, a call to action for economics students to question their professors (and entire discipline) about their teachings of neoclassical economics. Smart Bubble Society’s core values center around the idea that there are career options for graphic designers beyond working for big corporations and advertising agencies (Jon even wrote a blog post about it here!)
Young people have inherited institutions and systems full of flaws and inequalities, a fact that should only help fuel our desire to look beyond what we are told and dig furiously to come to our own conclusions. Now is the time to break down the barriers separating social science students from art students and science students, and acknowledge not our differences, but our similarities; to look beyond our schooling for a more critical take on the state of things.