On April 27, CNN host Fareed Zakaria defended the humanities as part of the L.A. book launch of his new treatise, In Defense of a Liberal Education. Zakaria is a member of the Berggruen Institute’s 21st Century Council. The WorldPost hosted the launch.
Zakaria spoke on a wide array of topics — chief among them the subject of his book: the importance of a liberal arts education. In a time when both the left and right are questioning the utility of the liberal arts on the grounds that it is not the skills-based training needed to prepare one for today’s workforce, Zakaria argued that, in fact, a liberal arts education is “the special sauce” that has helped make the U.S. economy one of the most robust, innovative, and dynamic economies in the world.
As Zakaria explained in his remarks, the very skills that a liberal arts education helps teach – creativity, critical thinking, flexibility, and common sense – are the skills that make for successful workers and entrepreneurs, and are the skills that are the hardest to replace with AI. Technical skills, on the other hand, are the easiest to replace with AI. This was not to diminish the importance of science, technology, engineering, and math, but rather that the STEM disciplines should be married with the liberal arts to bring about the most creative, dynamic, and successful economy possible.
Zakaria also answered questions from the audience on a variety of other topics, including ISIS, Iran, Israel, Palestine, and space.
Attendees at the event included, among many others, Rwandan President Paul Kagame, former Pakistani Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, financiers Steve Schwarzman, David Bonderman and Mohamed El-Erian, California State Senator Bob Hertzberg, former California Governor Gray Davis and Hollywood producers Brian Grazer, Lawrence Bender and Mike Medavoy. Economist and member Nouriel Roubini, essayist Pico Iyer and Harvard historian Niall Ferguson also attended.