BUSINESS and SOCIETY; How to Get a Harvard Education

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Byline: Bernardo Villegas

A recent article by Michael Fitzgerald in Technology Review reported that Intel, the worldas largest chip manufacturer, is hiring more than 100 anthropologists and other social scientists to work side by side with its engineers. This trend is highlighting the importance of the so-called "soft sciences" in helping the hard scientists (e.g. physicists, chemists and engineers) to understand the human dimensions of technology.

This multidisciplinary approach in running a business organization is being increasingly made necessary by the characteristics of emerging markets like China and India. As Mr. Fitzgerald observed: "Intel has already released several products shaped by anthropological research. In February 2005, it worked with a Chinese PC maker to release the China Home-Learning PC; and in October 2005 it launched the iCafe initiative in China, which involves a platform for improving how Internet cafA[c] owners deploy and manage their technology. Intel has also repeatedly demonstrated early production versions of a Community PC, which is aimed at markets where infrastructure is not as well developed as in the West. That platform will be introduced first in India later this year. In all these new ventures, social scientists have had aa real impact,a says Pat Gelsinger, a senior vice president at Intel."

Parents and their children graduating from high school this summer should take notice of the rebirth of interest in the liberal arts as a strong foundation for long-term professional success, even in the most technical fields like engineering, business administration or information technology. As a teaching fellow at Harvard College in the 1960s, I was totally immersed in the tradition of liberal arts education that was the legacy of Charles William Eliot to the oldest university in the US. When Eliot became Harvardas President in 1869, he ushered in large-scale reform that marked the renaissance in liberal arts education not just at Harvard but also across the whole USA. As Matthew Pearl, Harvard alumnus, wrote in an op-ed column in the New York Times last February 26, 2006, Eliot, only 35 at the time of his inauguration, published a two-part series on aThe New Educationa in The Atlantic Monthly, setting forth a national agenda for educational reform. The presidents of colleges like Cornell and Johns Hopkins were compelled to coordinate their efforts with Harvardas. Appropriately, Eliot remained president for 40 years, the longest term in the universityas history, and brought Harvard into the first years of the 20th century.

Once again, I am advising parents and high school graduates to make their choice of school on the basis of how well they will be given a solid liberal arts education by their university or college of choice rather than on instant professional training. An overly technical or narrow field of specialization early in college may be a handicap in oneas long-term advance in any career.

At the University of Asia and the Pacific (UA&P), our overarching mission is to provide students with a strong liberal arts foundation, whatever their future career specializations may be (such as industrial economics, integrated market communications, management, information technology, political economy, education or the humanities). …