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Memo to Jim Munger, Vice Provost for Academic Planning

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Memo
To: Jim Munger, Vice Provost for Academic Planning
From: Karly Hensley
Subject: Proposal to research the need for a new curriculum with Boise
States College of Innovation and Design
Date: September 11, 2015

Purpose
The purpose of this memo is to request funding to research the appropriate
action that should be taken when deciding on whether or not to bridge the
humanities and STEM fields through Boise State Universitys upcoming
College of Innovation and Design.

Summary
There is currently a large focus throughout our nation to fund and
participate in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics
departments within our colleges and universities. Many politicians are
emphasizing the importance of these fields when competing with the rest of
the globe in education and advancement. In doing so they are
deemphasizing the liberal arts and humanities field naming them as useless
to our nations progression. With the dismissal of importance to the liberal
arts and social science fields, we are leading students down a narrow and
dangerous path for the future.
I am proposing to research the importance of the humanities fields as well
as the danger of pushing the STEM fields. My research will rely heavily on
nationwide information about the current job market as well as statistics
pulled directly from the Boise State web site. This will show the importance
that the humanities have on post-graduates as well as giving an outline of
the direction that Boise State is currently headed within its redesigning of
the curriculum and mission for the new College of Innovation and Design.
I will be taking seven weeks in total to analyze, identify, research, and
prepare a full recommendation report after approval. I estimate that I will
take a total of 32 hours over this time frame and I will require a payment of
twenty dollars per hour totaling an overall budget of $640.
With my six years of attendance at Boise State, I have been a part of several
different departments and have become acquaintances with a broad variety

Memo to Jim Munger, Vice Provost for Academic Planning


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of colleagues and supervisors allowing me to be unbiased and see the


university as a whole rather than what is best for a specific field. I am
currently studying English with an emphasis in technical communication as
well as Sociology which has given me a wide skill base in research and
communication.
If this proposal were authorized, I will begin research immediately, provide
a progress report on October 25, 2015, and a final recommendation report
on November 13, 2015. The recommendation report would include the
details of my research as well as a recommendation on how Boise State
should continue in advancing the curriculum within its new upcoming
College of Innovation and Design.

Problem
Everyone has heard the discussion about the decline of humanities degrees
pursued by college students in recent years. With politicians pushing for the
science, technology, engineering and math fields as well as our culture
focusing more on technology and science now more than ever, it is not
surprising that interest in STEM fields are increasing while the humanities
are decreasing. As reported by The National Endowment for the
Humanities, federal support for these fields are dropping drastically. They
reported that federal support for humanities-focused programs fell from
$855 million in 2008 to $594 million in 2014 (Humanities Funding Still in
Recovery from Recession ). Even with the humanities in decline, President
Obama has still funded millions of dollars towards the STEM fields. Our
government has also passed the STAPLEs Act of 2015 which allows for
foreign immigrants to gain residency within the US if they receive a PhD in
the STEM fields only (H.R.2181 - STAPLE Act). Because of this, more
schools are not only cutting the funding within humanitarian programs, but
also rearranging their curriculum to bridge the humanities and STEM
fields in order to incorporate the useless humanities degree. Boise State is
one of the many schools hopping on board with this idea when building the
new College of Innovation and Design.
Not only will Boise State be taking away some of the culture and creativity
of its students and community, but they could potentially be putting their
students in more of a risk when it comes to getting a job post-graduation.
According to the Center for Immigration Studies, there are now more
students graduating from STEM fields then there are jobs available for
them. David North states America has more high-tech college graduates
than needed to fill high-tech jobs now and, importantly, the nation will keep
producing many more such graduates than job openings in the future

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(North). Boise State will be setting up its students for failure by pushing
them to attain a degree that not enough jobs are available for.
Some could say humanities are already posing that problem for students.
Susan Adams, a writer and researcher for Forbes, has found otherwise. Not
only are more students in the humanities and social science fields going to
graduate school than business and pre-profession fields, but the
unemployment rate for these fields actually drop with an increase in age.
Adams found 5.2% of liberal arts majors are unemployed from the ages of
21-30. That rate drops to 3.5% among 41-to-50-year-olds (Adams). This
shows the humanities and social science graduates are doing quite well
considering when this study was done, the national unemployment rate was
6.7%.
The argument that students spend more money paying for their degree in
the humanities than they will actually get on return is also a faulty one. As
Jeffery Dorfman, another writer for Forbes, has researched and found,
humanities majors are receiving a healthy return on finances from attaining
these degrees. He states the present value of the extra earnings that
graduates in humanities majors can expect over their lifetime is $302,400
for drama majors, $444,700 for English majors, $537,800 for history majors,
and $658,900 for philosophy majors (Dorfman).
Boise State is not doing their students a favor by turning our university in to
a STEM based college. Not only are employers looking for students holding
a high skill set of communication, problem solving, critical thinking and
many other characteristics that the humanities fields help develop and
teach, but the humanities are proving to have a great deal of return on
finances and employment. We need to stop cutting funds from the
humanities fields in order to fund the science, technology, engineering and
math fields and allow for our university to continue to help student
progression with communication, writing, and other skills the humanities
offer. Boise State is not making the best decision when allowing the
humanities to get lost under an avalanche of STEM field development due to
untrue stereotypes against humanities fields.

Methods
With approval, I will use these research methods to determine the most
appropriate way for Boise State to advance the curriculum with the
humanities and STEM fields.
1.) Research and analyze the classes available and class attendance rates
at Boise State in both disciplinary fields.

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It is important to know what classes are available to students as well


as if these classes are reaching their maximum enrollment. This will
help us to see in what direction Boise State is progressing and
popularity of classes throughout students. I will use resources
available through Boise State archives and websites to find the history
of students focus and how that has developed today.
2.) Analyze the history of classes being added and dropped from the
curriculum.
In discovering the university history and curriculum of Boise State, we
can better see where disciplinary focus is being held, in what
direction we are headed as a university, and how funds are being
distributed. We can see how the curriculum is switching focus and in
what direction.
3.) Research and analyze what fields students are graduating from within
Boise State.
This will help Boise State to see the importance in degrees they are
providing and where todays students are most focused. Using online
resources and reports through Boise State, I will be able to analyze
where the students are focused in attaining a degree.
4.) Research the job market and analyze what skills and degrees are
most wanted and needed after graduation.
In doing so, Boise State can better form an idea of how to help
students succeed and gain the required skills for a successful career
within their degrees. I will use journals and articles to see what
employers and graduates are saying nationwide, as well as asking
local employers what skills they find necessary for future employees
to hold.
5.) Research what fields graduates are ending up in, and whether they
have started in careers relative to their majors.
This will help focus on the idea of what degrees are needed for
specialization and what degrees are offering opportunities outside of a
chosen career and degree. This will be done using mostly nationwide
journals and articles to see in what direction students are going after

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their undergraduate degree, in what field they got their degree, and
what field they are currently working for.

Schedule
Figure 1 represents the schedule I will use to perform the above noted
tasks.

Dates of Tasks by Week


9/28

10/05 10/12

10/19

10/26

11/2

11/9

Task 1:
Analyze
Task 2:
Identify
Task 3:
Research
Task 4:
Prepare
Figure 1

Qualifications
As a student who has been a member of the Boise State community since
2010, I have witnessed many changes throughout catalogs, campus
structure and focus throughout these several years. I have been a part of
several different communities within my time here such as starting within
the medical department for pharmacy, joining the business field through
marketing, and now being a part of a strong social science as well as liberal
arts field when studying Sociology and English. Through my many degree
changes as a student, I have made and built connections with a wide,
diverse group of students and faculty that will help in my findings for what
is best for the University as a whole. Since I am currently studying
Sociology and English, I have a broad knowledge on researching and
communication that will help me in looking for the needed material as well
as communicating across groups.

Budget
For task one, I expect to take 6 hours to research course availability and
class attendance within each discipline using Boise States online resources
and reports. Another 6 hours will be allotted to researching the history of
course curriculum using the same strategy. I, then, expect to focus another
five hours on undergraduates degree of choice as well as history of

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students graduating from humanities and STEM fields. I will then spend
another six hours focusing on the job market by searching through articles
as well as asking employers and faculty what they find to be the most
necessary forms of skills for recently graduated students. Another five hours
will be spend researching the available online materials for where graduate
students are ending up and how it relates to their major and field of choice.
A final four hours will be needed for preparing the full recommendation
report.
Total

Hours
32

Hourly Rate
$20

Total Amount
$640

References
Adams, Susan. "Majoring In The Humanities Does Pay Off, Just Later." 22 January
2014. Forbes . Web. 12 September 2015.
Dorfman, Jeffrey. "Surprise: Humanities Degrees Provide Great Return On
Investment." 20 November 2014. Forbes . Web. 12 September 2015.
"H.R.2181 - STAPLE Act." 30 April 2015. Congress.gov. Web. 13 September 2015.
"Humanities Funding Still in Recovery from Recession ." 19 June 2014. National
Endowment for the Humanities . Web. 13 September 2015.
North, David. "America Has More Trained STEM Graduates than STEM Job Openings."
May 2013. Center for Immigration Studies . Web. 12 September 2015.