Students in Rural America Ask, ‘What Is a University Without a History Major?’

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By Mitch Smith

STEVENS POINT, Wis. — Chancellor Bernie Patterson’s message to his campus was blunt: To remain solvent and relevant, his 125-year-old university needed to reinvent itself.

Some longstanding liberal arts degrees, including those in history, French and German, would be eliminated. Career-focused programs would become a key investment.


Well, let me say this about that:

The price of soybeans is determined largely by Chinese demand and our historic ties with China.

Seed genetics, pesticides, and insecticides don’t recognize borders. They are sold globally. To manage them intelligently anyone “local” must think and act “globally”. Here the history of the rise of technology, transnational companies, and international cooperation (or the lack of it) are key.

Climate change is an issue that cannot be managed (or ignored) in any local or even national context. This is a challenge of historic proportion and you cannot think relevantly about it or act effectively in an isolated context.

Ag students who are not “globally agile” will plant the wrong crops, be taken to the cleaners by the Commodities market, be at the mercy of input suppliers, and fail in the long-term management of their land.

RP