And yet, if you ask Massachusetts College of Art and Design President David Nelson, such statistics do not add up to a dreadful future for non-engineers: “I see a world that is unified in many ways and not fragmented,” Nelson said. “The distinction between STEM disciplines and the arts disciplines is pretty artificial.”
“There’s a lot of emphasis on consumption and paychecks, and… I’m asking us to think beyond ‘goods’ to the common good,” Nelson said. “We want our children to make a good living, but also to make a good life.”
Part of furthering that goal is emphasizing arts education as a solution-oriented field that trains students to be nimble enough to adapt to an evolving economy. Of course, as with much of the higher education world today, making that knowledge accessible across racial, geographic, and socioeconomic lines is something the college is taking into account.
Moving forward, Nelson said MassArt continue to instill the skills Massachusetts residents need to thrive and create, a niche the institution has fulfilled since its inception. In 2017—144 years since class began at MassArt—that mission requires the school to double-down on the value of its degrees.
“It’s up to us to help students and families realize the possibility of art and design school and realize that art and design fills our world,” Nelson said. “We sit on it. We wear it…It’s creating not just things that hang on a wall, but that we use every single day.”