Boomers Bring Liberal Arts, Millennials Bring IT and Business to Nonprofits

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June 3, 2014; LinkedIn Slideshare

This isn’t an infographic of exclusive interest to nonprofits, but it probably should be on their radar. LinkedIn has an interestingly massive database to draw on. What did Baby Boomers study in college? What did Millennials study in college? This infographic is fascinating, suggesting that, in an examination of data is based on 300 million LinkedIn profiles, Boomers tended toward broader majors and the liberal arts while Millennials leaned toward specialized fields, particularly in technology and business.



The disappearance of education—the top college major among Boomers—from the educational priorities of Millennials is stunning. What happened? Is there a political and societal message reflected in this—for example, the way groups like Teach for America imply that a college curriculum in education can be replaced by six weeks or less of training plus a lot of brio to take over a public school?

This NPQ Newswire author, at the older boundary of the Boomer age range, had a major in political science and a minor in education in his college years. It was in the education classes that the writings of Ivan Illich and Paulo Freire were introduced and became, particularly in the case of Freire, lifelong touchpoints for understanding life and society, not just the process of education.

The other week, this author attended a performance of The Threepenny Opera by Bertolt Brecht and Kurt Weill. To spice it up, the show moved the timeframe to the near future and spliced the accession of Prince William into the story. Nonetheless, the audience was just about all Boomers, who probably had a pretty solid dose of liberal arts education, maybe learning about Bertolt’s Mother Courage and Her Children, The Caucasian Chalk Circle, and The Resistible Rise of Arturo Ui through some college English or theater class.

LinkedIn’s analysis focuses on the reduced role of an education major in the college experience of Millennials. Ours is more about the question about liberal arts in general. Liberal arts education would be a terrible thing to lose in our society—and in the nonprofit community. Some of us think that those Boomers who majored in education or political science might have been the very same people who created and propelled the nonprofit sector to the societal importance it has today, boosting its ability to recruit those young business and IT majors.—Rick Cohen


  • Heidi

    So what do GenXers bring? Not to be a pain but we are the forgotten generation and this story seems to confirm that.

  • Martha

    We bring a nuanced understanding of context to the world. Millenials may not appreciate that yet; maybe Boomers need to do a better job of articulating that.

  • Jennifer

    I always wonder why the comparison is just between Boomers and Millennials. It’s as if Gen X doesn’t exist. We may be small, but we are here, filling the gap between these two generations. We may be small, but we are still here. I agree with Heidi, that yet again we are ignored because we aren’t enough to swing an election, buy things in large quantities. But we’re still here, working, paying taxes, trying to raise our own families and breaking ground for Millennials. I sometimes see us as the go between for the two generations and we just don’t get enough credit for that. We can poke around in the digital world almost as easily as the millennials, but still can understand and work in the framework the Boomers have put into businesses and non-profits.

  • Jessie Newburn

    Oh, dear. Looks to me like you forgot to “study” the 81 million US-based GenXers, currently aged 33-53 years old. But, no matter, I’m sure your data and study are extremely valid and accurate.

  • Jessie Newburn

    GenXers aren’t small. They were 81.3 million in the 2005 Census; Boomers, 64.6 million. Millennials, 79 mil.

  • Rick Cohen

    Dear Jessie: I was simply reporting on the LinkedIn study, as I’m sure you noticed. It wasn’t my study. Thanks for your note.