With maybe some jealousy, social scientists watch the success of colleagues within the natural sciences—including their patent revenues. They have cleverly repositioned the curiosity vs. utilitarian narratives, owning both. When cash flows, however the authorities needs more justification for public funds, the utilitarian narrative is at hand. When demands for accountability and short-term outcomes develop, the motivated curiosity narrative takes over. As nicely formulated by Wolfgang Rohe of the German Mercator Foundation, the pure science narrative was never curiosity vs. utility; it was, and remains, science alternating as situations require.
In doing so, our curriculum promotes competencies required for varied modes of mediated and unmediated messaging, while growing abilities for analyzing, decoding, and solving communication problems. Liberal arts are generally misunderstood as “soft” subjects that lack supporting numbers or knowledge. While the liberal arts definition does include humanities and soft sciences, it also encompasses physical sciences and arithmetic. The key element in defining liberal arts is the intent to combine practical, concrete data, like data and statistics, with theoretical information, like ethics and philosophy.