Don’t Be a Rick: Anthropology and Liberal Arts in the Republican Gunsights

So we should clue he and those who think like him in. Spread the word. If you have a blog or a site that can share it, go to the links below and embed this Prezi slide show.


For those that aren’t aware, Florida governor Rick Scott recently derided the science of anthropology as being less valuable and worthy only of cuts in budgeting and funding from the state. This could have a significant impact on Archaeology education as well as research being performed by graduate students in various post-grad and doctorate programs throughout the state. His criticism was essentially that graduating anthropologists were not being prepared for the job market and they did not benefit society. This is what he said:

We don’t need a lot more anthropologists in the state. It’s a great degree if people want to get it, but we don’t need them here. I want to spend our dollars giving people science, technology, engineering, and math degrees. That’s what our kids need to focus all their time and attention on, those types of degrees, so when they get out of school, they can get a job((Marc Bernier Show, 10/10/2011,

The American Anthropological Association fired off a response across Scott’s apparently ignorant bow:

As an association, we are a group of over 11,000 scholars, scientists, and professionals who are dedicated to studying humankind in all its aspects, including through archaeological, biological, cultural, medical, and linguistic research… Perhaps you are unaware that anthropologists are leaders in our nation’s top science fields, making groundbreaking discoveries in areas as varied as public health, human genetics, legal history, bilingualism, the African American heritage, and infant learning.

The timing is interesting. As the United States enters a political campaign season for the Presidency, it may be that right-wing conservatives are trying to appeal to their base by spouting rhetoric about jobs and taking digs at academia at the same time. In a state where another Rick (Perry) installed his own “people” on the University of Texas Board of Regents, there was a decision to eliminate several “non-producing” master’s programs, including that of my own anthropology department.

The good news is that I’ll still be able to get my own master’s degree, but the bad news is that it might not carry the weight it would have. The worse news is, the undergraduate population is rather large and many of them were looking toward our graduate program for the future -the graduate faculty are truly top-notch at my university.

There were many flaws in how the Regents arrived at a conclusion that the department was “non-producing” (that was a term that I heard not that I can source, by the way), but they have their own agendas and political alignments that cloud their abilility to see reason.

About Carl Feagans 398 Articles
Professional archaeologist that currently works for the United States Forest Service at the Land Between the Lakes Recreation Area in Kentucky and Tennessee. I'm also a 12-year veteran of the U.S. Army and spent another 10 years doing adventure programming with at-risk teens before earning my master's degree at the University of Texas at Arlington.


  1. Carl,
    Thanks for featuring the USF students’ prezi! It’s a great piece.

    But I am really sorry to hear about what happened to your program. I put your post in my final round up of news on the Scott controversy, because exactly the same process seems to be gearing up here in Florida – using the Texas model as one main inspiration.

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