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TU hosts lecture on STEM, humanities education

Monday, April 14, 2014

STEMFormer government official says universities should take a greater role in reforming primary education system

Noted businessman and public intellectual Norm Augustine says tying together humanities-based curriculum with science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines is key to improving America’s education system.

The University of Tulsa welcomed Augustine, former CEO and chairman of Lockheed Martin, for a special all-faculty lecture April 8 in the Lorton Performance Center.

A former government official who has served as acting secretary of the U.S. Army, Augustine discussed the role universities and institutions play in providing qualified job candidates while boosting the quality of America’s kindergarten through 12th grade schools.

“Many of the problems we face in the world today can best be solved through liberal arts and social sciences,” Augustine said.

He said nearly 40 percent of U.S. employers have difficulty filling entry-level jobs because candidates possess inadequate skills.

“We do a poor job of providing K-12 education,” Augustine said. “The time has come for our universities to take a greater role in helping reform our primary education system.”

Augustine is an alumnus of Princeton University where he earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in engineering. He is highly admired for his national leadership in science and technology and has earned many honors including the National Medal of Technology.

“Science and engineering jobs make up 50 percent of our gross domestic product, but science and education wouldn’t be where it is today without the students who came to the United States from abroad to earn graduate degrees and contribute to the economy,” he said. “Companies need more employees who are qualified in science and engineering.”

But Augustine said one cannot live by equations alone. The world’s job market also demands graduates with competent language and communications skills who have studied economics and history. “There is change in the wind, and employers will require candidates with a balanced education of humanities, social sciences and technology,” he said.

Augustine currently serves as a professor in the School of Engineering and Applied Science at Princeton University. TU Provost Roger Blais said Augustine’s presentation applies to all institutions of higher learning across the country.

“The academic experience involves more than just core degree courses. Social sciences and artistic endeavors inspire creativity and help prepare the ‘whole student’ for the real world,” Blais said. “TU encourages STEM students to explore a variety of opportunities in the liberal arts.”

Gail Ellis