Mark Cuban: Don’t Go to College to Study Business. Study the Humanities

cuban

From Business Insider:

Billionaire investor Mark Cuban offered a perhaps bleak prediction on the future of jobs in an interview Friday with Bloomberg’s Cory Johnson at the NBA All-Star Technology Summit in New Orleans.

Discussing the swiftly evolving nature of jobs due to automation, he noted that across a broad array of industries, robots will replace human workers.

Prompted by Johnson, he then made a bold proclamation about the types of skills and majors that will dominate in his version of the future labor market.

Here’s an excerpt of their conversation (emphasis ours):

Johnson: So essentially what you’re making the case for is education and job training for grown ups.

Cuban: No, no. I think that won’t matter. What are you going to go back and learn to do?

Johnson: What it takes, right? Whether it’s finance, whether it’s software programming.

Cuban: No finance. That’s the easiest thing — you just take the data have it spit out whatever you need. I personally think there’s going to be a greater demand in 10 years for liberal arts majors than there were for programming majors and maybe even engineering, because when the data is all being spit out for you, options are being spit out for you, you need a different perspective in order to have a different view of the data. And so having someone who is more of a freer thinker.

Cuban’s forecast of the skills needed to succeed in the future echoes that of computer science and higher education experts who believe people with “soft skills,” like adaptability and communication, will have the advantage in an automated workforce.

Cuban highlighted English, philosophy, and foreign language majors as just some of the majors that will do well in the future job market.

Watch the entire interview here.

Cuban is reinforcing a narrative I and many other have been pushing for a long time.  We need the humanities more than ever in a constantly changing workplace. (Not to mention their contribution to our democracy).  Colleges and universities with traditional liberal arts programs that do not invest in their humanities-based missions are doing so at their own peril.

Having said that, I am becoming more and more convinced that not every 4-year college or university, even those who give lip-service to the liberal arts and the humanities, will be unable to commit to this kind mission and still keep the doors open.  Colleges in financial difficulties, or those who rely entirely on tuition dollars, or those with small endowments, cannot afford to take the long view in this way.  Instead, they must throw their money into professional programs just to stay alive.

Cuban takes the long view.  Liberal arts and the humanities are the future.  It think college administrators understand this, but there is nothing they can do about it.  Mission is sacrificed to market.  Give the students want they want, not what they, and all of us, need.

2 thoughts on “Mark Cuban: Don’t Go to College to Study Business. Study the Humanities

  1. I believe it is that evolution from being a Liberal Arts University that has the mission of teaching the core values of that worldview to the new Profits Must Be Made model has turned students from those attending college to get a Liberal Arts education into spoiled consumers that demand that the university cater to their whims to get their (or their parents) money. There are far too many campuses where they quit challenging their students with new and different ideas, concepts and opinions, pushing their student to develop and use critical thinking skills, in fear of a PC backlash that might lose them paying customers. It is a very frustrating time in higher education.

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  2. Thanks for this post. I agree with Cuban’s premise that we need broadly passionate, curious, lifelong learners rather than narrowly vocationally-adept programmers. Technical literacy is table stakes in many fields, but our human abilities for empathy, curiosity, communication, creativity are our comparative advantages in the machine-driven economy. Rote technical ability to program on one language or another is far more prone to automation than critical thinking. I have a new book on this very topic called “The Fuzzy and the Techie: Why the Liberal Arts Will Rule the Digital World” (http://amzn.com/0544944771).

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