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Letters: Funding for hard sciences and humanities

June 23, 2013

Re "Why arts and humanities matter," Opinion, June 20

James Cuno laments the decline in emphasis on arts and humanities as more students are attracted to hard science and engineering because of a job market that "disproportionately" rewards these fields.

I agree that the humanities enrich the human experience and that it is appropriate that an exposure to them is required for all graduates. But Cuno goes far beyond this, asserting that intelligence, passion, imagination and "the ability to connect with others" are all developed specifically by studying the humanities, without which future leaders will be unable to understand "what it is to be human."

Cuno does not cite any data to support these bold claims. Stating an idea in elegant prose does not make it true — it must be supported by evidence.

It's reasonable that if fewer students are pursuing advanced studies in humanities, then the budgets for these departments should be adjusted to reflect this.

Cyril Barnert

Los Angeles

I applaud Cuno for his cogent argument that studying the arts fosters creativity and communication at the deepest human level.

But now, when research reveals that fewer than one in four eighth- and 12th-grade students are able to put a sentence together, there is little hope that education will prevail. The obsession with digital technology has usurped the desire for human contact and left us with little understanding of what real communication is. Where is the motivation to turn this around?

Since the vast majority of students — as well as their parents — have their eyes and ears perpetually glued to a glowing screen, it is, pitifully, too late.

Carol Surface

Beverly Hills

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