It seems a few days ago while at a South Carolina town hall, the Republican presidential hopeful insulted psychology and liberal arts majors, suggesting that college students should consider fields of study that won’t end with them working in fast food.
“Universities ought to have skin in the game. When a student shows up, they ought to say ‘Hey, that psych major deal, that philosophy major thing, that’s great, it’s important to have liberal arts … but realize, you’re going to be working a Chick-fil-A.’”
Bush seems to have forgotten that he, himself has a liberal arts degree in Latin American studies from the University of Texas at Austin. Nonetheless, psych majors have been speaking out against the candidate’s comments online.
“This pisses me off. Psychology isn’t liberal arts. It’s a science, dedicated to understanding human thought and behavior. You know where I worked when I was an undergrad psychology major? NASA.”
Dr. Mattu also goes on the discuss the practical value of psychology in the fight against terror, citing the psychology of group polarization and explains how homeland security is made 20 times safer through the Control Cognitive Engagement method at airports. View Dr. Mattu’s full video response below.
Inspired by Dr. Mattu, psych majors have taken to Twitter to defend their degrees and careers, detailing the accomplishments they’ve achieved with their education, including: helping veterans overcome the perils of war; helping people beat addiction, preventing suicide, and conducting research for neurological diseases.
And, this simple but poignant message from one psych major:
Bush doubled down on his comments later in the town hall, adding:
“The number one degree program for students in this country … is psychology. I don’t think we should dictate majors. But I just don’t think people are getting jobs as psych majors. We have huge shortages of electricians, welders, plumbers, information technologists, teachers.”
Two points of clarification on his comment. First, psychology is not the most popular degree in the US. The official statistics show it’s actually business related subjects that are the most studied, with psychology coming in at fifth.
Second, a recent article in About Education states that psych jobs are on the rise in the U.S. – and not just for those with advanced degrees. In fact, Georgetown University’s Centre on Education and the Workforce published reports that found in terms of employability, psychology is a college major where more than 9 out of 10 (91.2%) find jobs as recent graduates.
The fastest growing fields are industrial organization psychology, clinical and counseling; and school psychology. And, The Department of Veterans Affairs’ hospitals are one of the biggest employers of psychologists.
At a time when the country is still discussing the need for improved mental health services for veterans and to how prevent school shootings, Bush’s comments reminded some of his “stuff happens” response to the Oregon college shooting.
Frankly, I’m surprised by such an amateur PR move from a seasoned politician like Bush, especially when you consider that nearly half of all American households have had someone seek mental health treatments this year.
In other words, he not only reignited the conversation around his “stuff happens” comment, and created a hashtagged response on Twitter, but he also insulted half of the country. I can’t imagine that is playing well at campaign headquarters.
All I can say is that I am the proud graduate of a liberal arts university, Oglethorpe University in Atlanta, GA (Go Petrels) and not only did they provide an excellent education, they also placed me in my first agency internship, which launched my career. So, my liberal arts degree certainly served me well. Just as Bush’s degree hasn’t seemed to hurt him much either.
Dr. Alli Mattu’s Video Response: