Published on February 24, 2014 | by Jessica Murray


Obama under fire for shunning art history degrees

Barack Obama and his wife Michelle

Obama has issued an apology after he questioned the worth of art history degrees [Flickr: Tolga Akmen]

US President Barack Obama has apologised for shunning history of art degrees after he suggested that students should study something “more practical.”

The comment was made at a General Electrics plant in Wisconsin, where he said that “folks can make a lot more potentially with skilled manufacturing or the trades than they might with an art history degree.”

After receiving a letter of complaint, Obama sent a handwritten note stating that he was merely “making a point about the jobs market, not the value of art history.”

Professor Ann Collins Johns, who teaches history of art at the University of Texas, argues that the subject has numerous benefits such as teaching students how to think, read and write critically.


Despite this, many are still annoyed at Obama’s apparent disregard for arts degrees.

CSM Foundation student Jack Roughley, who studied history of art at college, disagrees with Obama’s comments and thinks that students should be encouraged to study what they are interested in, and should not be pushed towards something that is simply going to allow them to make more money.

He told Arts London News: “I find it unfair that Obama has slated history of art degrees by addressing the fact that citizens can make more money through a ‘skills/manufacturing’ job. Surely the fact that citizens are educated and have a degree should be something that is praised and celebrated, not ridiculed simply on how much money they’re going to make at the end of the month.”


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