I read with great dismay Sunday's State Journal story "Cuts cause controversy," about a UW-Stevens Point plan “axing liberal arts degrees while adding them in science, engineering, business and technology,” supposedly in the name of jobs.
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As the chair of the Criminal Justice Department at UW-Platteville -- which annually graduates the largest cohort of criminal justice majors in Wisconsin -- my department stands to gain from the privileging of pre-professional disciplines over others. But criminal justice students stand to lose when rural comprehensive campuses in the University of Wisconsin System skimp and save on the liberal arts.
The false choice -- between liberal arts and jobs -- came in bold relief when I met leaders in the field of criminal justice who serve on my department’s advisory board. What do criminal justice employers want? Overwhelmingly, they want “human beings who can empathize,” with the reasonable caveat that they also should “write well and communicate effectively.”
So what does this criminal justice chairperson want, so that her students can get criminal justice jobs? More Spanish, more philosophy, and more ethnic studies. This is needed, especially now, when good police work is not technical training but the ability to humanize a person in crisis from another walk of life.
Staci Strobl, Platteville