The value of education breadth

Recent CLA cuts do not line up with a well-balanced education.

The College of Liberal Arts 2015 interim report, which plans CLAâÄôs future in an environment of decreased funding, proposes an alarming and perverse system of incentives in the new budget structure. The report explains how CLA can get more tuition revenue by increasing its âÄúmarket share,âÄù either by advising our students to take fewer courses in other colleges or to take more [CLA] courses.âÄù Acknowledging that âÄúthe steps needed to induce these changes in student behavior can âĦ lead to reduced choices for students and a diminished undergraduate experience,âÄù it still points out that âÄúthe current budget model provides a multimillion-dollar incentive to erect barriers that increase market share.âÄù These budget incentives are distorting the goal of education. If every college implemented this increased market share strategy, each college would become intellectually alienated. Students would no longer have access to a comprehensive and general base of knowledge; instead, they would be channeled into narrow areas of expertise bereft of context. Rather than reward colleges for isolating students, the University of Minnesota should strive for a system that encourages cross-college and interdepartmental learning. Programs could be reorganized according to broad relationships instead of specialized niches. This approach could also save money by removing barriers between departments and unnecessary administrative umbrellas. By receiving a broader education, students would become more relevant and more versatile. Higher education requires a broad, cross-disciplinary approach, not one that puts students in boxes.