My colleagues and I in admissions spend a lot of time at college fairs and school visits all over the world elaborating on the value of a liberal arts education for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) students. Students wonder, “But won’t I miss out on essential content if I take only one-third of my courses in physics?” Parents ask, “Philosophy and English are all well and good but what do they have to do with biology?”
Here’s what Steve Jobs has to say:
How did the iPod happen? How did “post-PC” devices happen? They happened because Steve Jobs and his colleagues at Apple knew that technology, ultimately, is as human as it is mechanical or electrical. The question was not “how do we build a better computer,” but “what should we build?” Apple’s answer to that question transformed our digital landscape and made the company the world’s #1 most valuable.
It is no coincidence that Yale-NUS College has sprung to life as the Singaporean economy crests the wave of facilitation and imitation that carried it into the First World. To take the next step, Singapore needs to innovate. To innovate, young Singaporeans need to ask the right questions. To ask the right questions, young Singaporeans need to study in the most academically, nationally, politically, and socially diverse and pluralistic environment possible, one that values questions as much as it does answers. Welcome to the liberal arts in Singapore.