What can you do with a degree in Political Science? Give it back!

Like many of you who are reading this, I have a BA in what could be called the Liberal Arts. Unlike many of you, I got it at a university that is more famous for its agricultural programs, a university where you could smell the fields of various fertilizers being tested, a university that embraced country music and line dancing.

Image from Pixabay.

In my university residence, we lived in pods of six students – four in single rooms and two in a double. My pod was four aggies, a business major and myself, a poli sci.

I came from a city more famous for its steel mills and pollution than its culture. To me, our podmates were salt of the earth, good drinking buddies and a lot of fun.

The business major, on the other hand, came from the big smoke, and this rural university was beneath him. To him the aggies were “back-ass country f*cks.”

Don’t worry, the distaste was mutual, and where he had language as a weapon, they had skills.

Did you know:

  • That if a door is closed, and you exert enough pressure on it, you can get a gap between the door and the door jam? Stuffing pennies into the gap will make the door almost un-openable once you stop putting pressure on it.
  • That a skilled farmer can climb up the outside of a three-storey building and enter through a window?
  • That really small pieces of uncooked beef are very hard to find until long after they’ve gone rotten and stunk up a decent sized bedroom?

I don’t remember now what all else they did to him (back in the 1980s) but it wasn’t a fair fight, even if he obviously picked and perpetuated it. His most biting response was, “that’s OK. I’ll own your farm one day.”

For the most part I fit in with the aggie crowd. Almost all of my friends in the first two years of uni were farmers. I went to their challenge pubs, I sat in on some of their classes, I visited their farms. When a group of dippers (2-year diploma students instead of full 4-year BSc students) petitioned the university to start a chapter of Alpha Gamma Ro (an Aggie-centric fraternity) I was invited to be a founding member of the chapter.

My one (forgivable) flaw, in their eyes, was my field of study: Political Science. Our school had a real political divide between the right-leaning aggies and the left-leaning artsies, and I was seen as being on the wrong side by my friends and neighbours.

Once, there was a seminar being offered: What You Can Do with a Degree in Political Science: Options for Your Future. I found a copy of the flyer on my bedroom door. Under the title, “Options for Your Future” had been scribbled out and one of my friends had added, “Give it back!”

It was meant as a joke and that’s how I took it. We all laughed about it.

Times weren’t as polarized then as they are now.

What brought this to mind is discussions I’ve been a part of recently that dealt with the lack of critical thinking apparent in today’s political climate and specifically under-graduate studies, how classes, courses, and especially majors designed to promote critical thinking are not popular.

Then tonight a promoted tweet in my timeline appeared, introducing HumanitiesWorks.org, a website specifically designed to dispel myths about the value (or lack there of) of an education in the Humanities.

One of many talking-point images available at HumanitiesWorks.org.

It’s a start, an entry point to a conversation that we need to continue.