The Chronicle of Higher Education reports:
President Obama found common ground with Republican politicians Thursday -- in arguing that some liberal arts degrees offer poor preparation for a job. Obama took on art history, following in the footsteps of Republicans who have in recent years questioned the value of degrees in anthropology, English, philosophy and women's studies. (See chart below to keep track of which politicians have dissed which fields.)
The president's remarks came on a trip to Wisconsin, where he was promoting his proposals on job training and efforts to revitalize American manufacturing. Art history came up as a contrast, and the president's remarks suggest that -- almost as soon as he said the words -- he realized not everyone would appreciate them.
Here's what he said: "[A] lot of young people no longer see the trades and skilled manufacturing as a viable career. But I promise you, folks can make a lot more, potentially, with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree. Now, nothing wrong with an art history degree -- I love art history. So I don't want to get a bunch of emails from everybody. I'm just saying you can make a really good living and have a great career without getting a four-year college education as long as you get the skills and the training that you need."
There are all sorts of ironies about the president selecting art history as a discipline to question. He is a graduate of Columbia University, whose undergraduate college is rare in American higher education (outside of art schools) in requiring study of art history.