Undergrads shifting demands for knowledge

UO physicist Raghu Parthasarathy’s Eighteenth Elephant blog has a fascinating post about changes in what students are majoring in, here. It was motivated by this report about the decline in history majors, which included this remarkable figure:

Obviously there have been huge shifts in what sorts of knowledge undergraduates demand. Raghu takes the next step, comparing the changes at UO to comparators:

Read the rest of his post for interpretation and methodology.

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7 Responses to Undergrads shifting demands for knowledge

  1. Lardman says:

    Kids have gotten the message: If you want a chance to pay off your student loan then better learn STEM.

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  2. honest Uncle Bernie says:

    The Fig. 1 from the Notheastern history professor is extremely revealing, the relative decline of so many of the “humanistic” fields. And UO’s data if anything seem to accentuate the trend. No wonder these fields are in trouble at UO and across the nation. If they can, they need to figure out how to keep from slipping further toward what will become irrelevance. I say this as someone who is not made happy by their decline. It may be the times, it may be damage that these fields have inflicted on themselves, I don’t know. But they better do something.

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    • Dog says:

      so why do you think the UO now desperately needs a standalone
      College of Science ! That’s the relevant thing man, STEM, STEM be cool; other ideas be useless …

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      • honest Uncle Bernie says:

        I’ve never said I am in favor of a standalone UO C of S, let alone that I think it is desperately needed. Dogs need better reading skills!

        That said, I think that the CAS split is a done deal. There is just too much driving it. The admin probably wants to merge the old science stuff at UO with the “Knight Campus” and its $1 billion endowment. They are probably hoping that Phil will come up with the other half billion, thereby giving them cover to split off the humanities and social sciences, relieving pressure on fundraising …. and …. the $1 billion pot (which actually isn’t that much, but it must seem like it to them) giving a desperately needed money source for the sciences, all combined. They know that Phil would never go for merging the Knight operation with CAS. But they can probably make a case to him to merge with the sciences, for the good of his own outfit.

        That, plus the opportunity to centralize control. That must be too attractive for the admin to pass up.

        Don’t blame me, I am just observing and describing what is obvious.

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        • Dog says:

          the you was not referring to the you HUB, it was a rhetorical you

          Also, in general, the obvious doesn’t require a description since,
          its, well ,obvious …

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  3. anon and on and on says:

    It’s worth mentioning that 2010-2012 was a span that also saw an unanticipated spike in a number of soc-sci and humanities majors at UO, including history. I would be more interested to see the comparison start with 2007-2008, which was the last year before the financial crisis moment, scaled of course for the size of the student body (because that has also changed). To look at sea changes that commentators often attribute to the 2008/9 crisis and the ongoing fallout, it would seem more helpful to have started at that moment or slightly before, and assess the whole, even though that may not look as pleasantly (compellingly?) alarming from the presentation side.

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    • anon and on and on says:

      (quick add: This is of course not to say there hasn’t been a significant decline, but that the delta is exaggerated by the boundaries of the dataset. Nobody will, I think, seriously suggest there hasn’t been a strong net per-capita drop in these majors–but one might argue that it’s not so anomalous as to suggest something weird is happening here.)

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