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Dr. Wylie Lenz, chair of the department of arts, humanities, and social sciences at Florida Polytechnic University, said he is excited the University is offering students a new applied liberal studies certificate. The certificate will provide students with a stronger base in communications, critical thinking, and other “soft skills” desired by employers.

APolitical

Florida Poly launches liberal studies program to boost graduate marketability

Employers say social skills are just important as technical skills.

In an attempt to combine tech training with social savvy, Florida Polytechnic University in Lakeland is launching an applied liberal studies certificate program to its STEM-focused curriculum, the school announced Monday.

The certificate program is aimed at providing students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics programs with people and social and communication skills and social and emotional intelligence employers have identified in qualities they look for in new employees.

“We want to make sure students are able to get more exposure to those disciplines that make them more marketable,” said Wylie Lenz, chair of the department of arts, humanities, and social sciences at Florida Poly. “In some cases, employers care more about critical thinking and communication than the technical skills.”

The new program is a 12-credit concentration that focuses on expanding foundations in the arts, humanities, and social sciences. Students will be able to enroll in new courses including introduction to literature and the history of science and technology. Students must complete nine credits in the liberal arts, humanities, and social sciences, with at least one course above the 2000 level. Students then complete a three-credit capstone course to demonstrate a mastery of academic research and writing skills.

“The more coursework you take outside your major, the more well-rounded you are,” Lenz said. “If students have taken significant coursework in liberal arts and humanities, it translates into higher lifetime earnings, more success in leadership positions, and I think it’s all traced back to the fact they have a higher level of communication skills.”

An article in the American Society for Mechanical Engineers recommended mechanical engineering majors consider minoring in a humanities field to improve their critical thinking and conversation skills.

“STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) and the humanities used to be all one discipline. DaVinci did it all. Aristotle did it all,” Lenz said. “Ultimately, the creative and intellectual impulses are the same between someone who pursues an interest in the sciences and someone who pursues an interest in the humanities.”

The site for Florida Poly’s new academic offering includes a quote from Apple founder Steve Jobs.

“It is in Apple’s DNA that technology alone is not enough—it’s technology married with liberal arts, married with the humanities, that yields us the results that make our heart sing.”

Janelle Irwin Taylor has been a professional journalist covering local news and politics in the Tampa Bay area since 2003. Most recently, Janelle reported for the Tampa Bay Business Journal. She formerly served as the sole staff reporter for WMNF News and previously covered news for Patch.com and various local neighborhood newsletters. Her work has been featured in the New York Daily News, Free Speech Radio News and Florida Public Radio and she's been interviewed by radio stations across the nation for her coverage of the 2012 Republican National Convention. Janelle is a die-hard news junkie who isn't afraid to take on big names in local politics, including Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, the dirty business of trash and recycling in St. Pete and contentious issues surrounding transit. Her work as a reporter and radio host has earned her two WMNF awards including News Volunteer of the Year and Public Affairs Volunteer of the Year. Janelle is also a devoted wife and mother to three brilliant and beautiful daughters who are a constant source of inspiration and occasional blogging fodder.

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