In a recent Washington Post Op-Ed, Fareed Zakaria challenges our country's obsession with STEM fields at the expense of the humanities. Zakaria suggests that minimizing liberal arts education actually undermines our capacity to innovate. He brings his characteristic interest in international comparison to bear in arguing the America's historical advantages in fostering a culture of ingenuity stem from its relative commitment to broad-based learning. He goes on to make that practical case that companies prefer "strong basics" over "narrow expertise" knowing that products and services distinguish themselves through narrative, not easily replicable technology. The same goes for employees.

See the link below for the full article.*

Zakaria on the Limitations of STEM

*Thanks to Braden Bolten for the reference.

In a recent Op-Ed Nicholas Kristof makes the case for why the humanities offers an essential skill set in the modern economy. Kristof references the work of labor economist Lawrence Katz in claiming that the "economic return to pure technical skills has flattened, and the highest return now goes to those who combine soft skills -- excellence at communicating and working with people -- with technical skills." This complementary relationship between technical competencies and the values associated with liberal arts is the formula for success in today's marketplace.

Here's the link to Kristof's piece.*

Kristof on "Starving for Wisdom"

*Thanks to John Rosenberg for providing this source.

The Chronicle of Higher Education highlights findings in a recent Academy of Arts and Sciences report that challenge the images of the humanities in decline. While the number of humanities degrees awarded declined over the span of the recent financial crisis, the report notes signs of strength across an array of indicators. These include high school AP exam participation, community college course enrollment, and the number of  second majors in humanities fields (about 25% in 2013).

See links to the Chronicle article and the AAS report below.*

Chronicle review of Humanities

AAS Humanities Indicators

*Thanks to Melinda Semadeni for the link.

In a recent Op-Ed New York Times columnist, Frank Bruni, recalls a defining moment from his undergraduate experience in order to take on the reductive thinking that equates college with the need to meet "work force needs." Bruni recalls a specific lecture on King Lear at the University of North Carolina as "the steppingstone to a more aware, thoughtful existence." While he acknowledges the need for accountability in higher education, he insists on the impossibility of placing "a dollar value on a nimble, adaptable intellect, which isn't the fruit of any specific course of study and may be the best tool for an economy and a job market that change unpredictably."

See the link below for the full column.

Bruni on "College's Priceless Value"

*Thanks to Nick Mason for the reference.

National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman, William Adams, recently announced a new grant funding initiative called "The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square." While "public humanities" efforts have long been a priority for colleges and humanities centers across the country, the NEH investment represents a significant milestone in debates over how to value liberal arts education.

Follow the link below for the article from Inside Higher Ed that offers details on the initiative and considers some of its political implications.

"Humanities for America"

*Thanks to Braden Bolton for the link.

A recent survey funded by the American Association of Colleges and Universities shows a striking disparity in how prospective employers and college graduates view their professional preparation. While employers tend to agree with graduates' self-assessment when it comes to "staying current on technologies," the survey finds much wider gaps (more than 30 points) in areas such as written and oral communication, critical/analytical thinking, and "locating, organizing, and evaluating information." Both Inside Higher Ed and The Chronicle of Higher Education covered the survey suggesting that it offers support for the value of more general undergraduate education. More specifically, the list of learning outcomes suggests that humanities degrees offer training in highly-prized competencies in today's work force.   

Below are the links to the articles and survey.

Inside Higher Ed article:

"Well-prepared in Their Own Eyes"

The Chronicle article:

"Students Think they're Ready for the Work Force"

The AACU survey:

"Falling Short?"

Thanks to Corry Cropper for the Inside Higher Ed link.
Thanks to Rebecca Brazzale for the link to the Chronicle piece.

Forbes magazine cites a recent survey by The National Association of Colleges and Employers that identifies the ten skills most in demand in today's marketplace. The top five in order of importance can be cultivated in any major, though some, such as verbal communication and the ability to obtain and process information are central to the humanities experience. The key for graduates in finding their way to a satisfying career, is the ability to translate the value of their curricular and extra-curricular experiences to professional environments. Follow the link below for more survey results.

*Thanks to Ben Ogles for the link.
Nicholas Kristoff's New York Times Op-Ed argues that tech innovation is animated by the arts. He offers examples of how recent humanistic thought can shape our response to 21st-century challenges.

A Wall Street Journal article explores the increasing currency of a skill traditionally associated with the humanities. Noting that "mentions of critical thinking in job postings have doubled since 2009" the article goes on to explore the challenge of translating this fundamental academic skill across a professional landscape that defines it in various ways. While employers express a strong interest in critically-thinking employees, they tend to have very profession-specific ideas about what this means. The article raises important definitional questions about a core competency identified with liberal arts education. We might ask the same question in the context of the university. How is critical thinking defined across disciplines and curricula? Do some aspects translate from one discipline to the next and, potentially, one profession to the next?

Connect to the full article below:*

*Thanks to Jamie Horrocks for the link.
In a recent Op-Ed New York Times columnist, Thomas Friedman, cites Gallup research that bolsters the case for the value of individual mentoring and internship experience for college students. 

According to the survey, graduates who had professors "who cared about them as a person -- or had a mentor who encouraged their goals and dreams and/or had an internship where they applied what they were learning -- were twice as likely to be engaged with their work and thriving in their overall well-being."

The data also point to a profound "understanding gap" among college administrators, students, and business leaders. While 22 percent of students claimed to have had meaningful mentoring, college provosts almost universally believed they were successful in preparing students for careers. 14 percent of students and 11 percent of business leaders "strongly believed" graduates were ready for the work force.

Connect to the full column below:

*Thanks to Chip Oscarson for the link.
The most recent issue of The Atlantic cites a Chronicle of Higher Education study that places experience outside the classroom at a much higher premium than traditional academic achievement measures such as grades and coursework. In this national survey, when it comes to hiring decisions, employers look first to a graduate's internship and work experience. This should not be taken as a blanket dismissal of academic experience as a factor in professional outcomes (not to mention the more general, and less instrumental, value of undergraduate education). The survey shows that the emphasis on non-academic preparation varies from one industry to another. It also does not account for how selection of major and success in coursework creates college internship and work opportunities in the first place.  

The Atlantic article also contains a link to the full Chronicle survey.

Thanks to Scott Sprenger for the link.

During and since the Great Recession employers have raised experience requirements and internships increasingly substitute for on-the-job training. Entry-level work requires more thinking and less checklist following than in the past with employers placing greater emphasis on soft skills such as interacting with clients. 

Read the Wall Street Journal article here:

Thanks to Scott Sprenger for the link.

Schooled in India, where the best education was rote memorization of technical knowledge, Fareed Zakaria tells in his recent graduation speech at Sarah Lawrence College how he discovered the power and advantage of liberal education in the U.S. He learned how to write, think, express himself and, above all, to self-teach.

In an era when successful companies, organizations, and even individual careers, depend on adaptability and innovation, the liberal arts should be central to everyone's education.

Listen to Zakaria's perspective here:

Full speech can be found here:

*thanks to Lynn Williams for link

WSJ: Languages Pay

In a globalized world, "language is the new oil," claims Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of GALA. It stands to reason that among the liberal arts disciplines, language study, especially translation and localization (a 32 billion dollar industry), is on the rise. The WSJ captures this rise in terms of higher salaries; it's not clear, however, that the author of the article (or, for that matter, the authors of the NACE study cited) see(s) the economic drivers pushing the pay of language majors to the top.


"Parents, don't despair. Even if your child spends four years of college reading Hungarian poetry or delving deep into the Faulkner oeuvre, he or she can still earn a decent salary shortly after packing up the senior-year dorm room. So says the National Association of Colleges and Employers, which reports that the top-paying liberal arts majors for 2014 graduates are foreign languages and literature (average starting salary $46,900) and English ($42,200). The results are based on job offers that students accepted earlier this year and were reported by employers in February 2014 primarily through a variety of government surveys."

read here:

The study, which focuses on an international MBA abroad program, argues that students become more "flexible, creative and complex thinkers."

"[...] Using a culturally diverse sample, we found that "multicultural engagement"--the extent to which students adapted to and learned about new cultures--during a highly international 10-month master of business administration (MBA) program predicted the number of job offers students received after the program, even when controlling for important personality/demographic variables. Furthermore, multicultural engagement predicted an increase in integrative complexity over the course of the 10-month program, and this increase in integrative complexity mediated the effect of multicultural engagement on job market success..."

study here:

Time Magazine comments here:

The London Business School is now doing this, and the idea, the article states, was a response to students overly focused on the bottom line and to complaints by employers who say "recent graduates are trained to solve single problems but often miss the big picture."

But will one course do the job? I'm curious about how the courses are constructed to bridge the gap between disciplines. And wouldn't it be better if the courses were taught by trained philosophers or, better, co-taught from business and philosophical perspectives?

*thanks to Crismon Lewis for link.

Tom Friedman's NYT interview with Lazlo Bock, Google's chief of HR, has reignited discussion about educational pathways to promising careers (like working for Google). In Part 1 of the interview, we learned that Google doesn't care about college degrees; they care about what people know and can actually do. According to Bock, college degrees are no longer a clear index of success within their firm.

Part 2 (here: follows up on the earlier discussion and makes similarly provocative claims. One of them is this: "I told [a] student they [sic] are much better off being a B student in computer science than an A+ student in English because it signals a rigor in your thinking and a more challenging course load. That student will be one of our interns this summer."

Although Bock surely must know what kinds of employees Google needs, his general assumption about what happens in English departments is dubious. As many people in the "comments" section point out: English degrees at good universities are extremely challenging and require mastery of different modes of inquiry, symbolic interpretation, analysis and communication. Such skills and critical thought processes do not come "naturally"; they are instilled via years of rigorous and careful training. Many students, in fact, never properly acquire them. Meanwhile China, Eastern Europe and India are producing an overabundance of coders.

Bock's other eyebrow-raising observation is this: "Humans are by nature creative beings, but not by nature logical, structured-thinking beings. Those are skills you have to learn."

Bock's suggestion is that students should study computer science or other STEM disciplines since one set of skills is inborn while the other set requires arduous training. The fact is that companies and organizations worldwide complain of a severe shortage of creative talent. And the explosive growth of design and innovation labs on American campuses tells a different story from Bock's: that creative thinking can and must be taught to meet the current market demand for innovation.

Bock does finally make two important points: 1) that students need to proactively take charge of their education, and 2) that a premium is currently placed on unique combinations of skills. Instead of thinking in either/or terms, such as English or computer science, or more broadly, the humanities or STEM, students should explore both.

I suspect that part of the mixed message in this piece comes from a split vision within Google's hierarchy: the HR chief's immediate hiring exigencies (e.g., rank and file coders) inform a view that does not cleanly align with the creative vision of the leaders at the top. Indeed, a previous post on Google in this blog contradicts Friedman's interviewee: Google Searching for Humanities Students - Humanities. It also comes from the wrong-headed assumption by Bock (and apparently Friedman) that the current needs and hiring strategies of Google should determine the educational choices of all students. From where I sit, this view is short-sighted and easily refutable.

The myth that studying the humanities doesn't pay was recently exploded by the Association of American Colleges and Universities and the National Center for Higher Education Management Systems. Their study, released in January, analyzed Census Bureau data on the education and occupation of about three million U.S. residents.

read here: (requires subscription)

The long-term value of studying foreign language is demonstrable, according to The Economist. Some languages, however, are more valuable than others.

Read the analysis here:

*thanks to Daryl Lee for the link.
If we're talking about the number of people with extensive foreign experience and near-native foreign language ability, the answer is an emphatic "yes." It was my first big surprise upon arriving in Utah over 20 years ago, and now so observes Nicholas Kristof of the NYT (below).

The deeper point not to be missed, however, is that language study and, more broadly, the humanities and in-depth experience abroad are a magnet for global business. Those who think that language study is "not useful" or "a waste of time" because the world speaks English are clearly mistaken. The explosive growth of global companies and organizations locating in Utah (of all places) stands as clear evidence. Graduates of Utah's universities are also heavily recruited by government agencies and for overseas employment by multinationals.

This success explains why Utah now has one of the biggest language immersion programs in the country. Kids in even remote cowboy towns can do half of the curriculum from 1st grade through the end of high school in Spanish, French, Portuguese or Chinese. More languages are currently being considered. The reason is that a majority of Utahns understand that opportunity at home now means opening on to the world.


Utah may well be the most cosmopolitan state in America. Vast numbers of young Mormons -- increasingly women as well as men -- spend a couple of years abroad as missionaries and return jabbering in Thai or Portuguese and bearing a wealth of international experience.

More than 130 languages are spoken daily in commerce in Utah, according to the University of Utah, and that's one reason it sometimes tops the Forbes list of best states to do business. The state is a center for trade and for global companies.

read here:

President Obama's recent crack about the study of art history as ineffective career training was challenged by an art historian, to whom he later apologized. If jokes, however, depend on stereotypes to be funny, they also reinforce them--in this case, that art history, and more broadly, the humanities, are frivolous pursuits with little worth for professional life. We understand what the president meant and studying a trade is fine. But his quip nonetheless piggybacks on an insidious "classist" mentality in its reinforcement of the social and economic divides that the American education system was designed precisely to overcome. The choice shouldn't be either/or, but both, and for economic reasons.

Without wanting to reduce the study of art history to its market value, Adam Gopnick rightly mentions that many companies in the modern economy owe their success to design and esthetics (Steve Jobs claimed that Apple's success derives from being "at the intersection of technology and the liberal arts"); Daniel Pink in A Whole New Mind convincingly argues the same point (yesterday's "soft" skills are today's "hard" skills); and, if many engineering schools around the country encourage or require students to study the arts it's because they know that success depends on innovation, and innovation depends on attention to design and on the human interface.

watch here:

previous post on the value of art history:

The Cornell Sun reports that students in humanities disciplines at Cornell are increasingly adding "practical" minors to their humanities training. In fact, Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies, cites this as a nationwide trend.

Adding a minor is an excellent idea and sounds like a Humanities+ strategy. The difference, however, is the justification. Mention is made in the article of the minor as a "fallback," something to pursue if the Humanities don't work out.

While understandable, the fallback idea is not a well-reasoned or informed career strategy. It also does not recognize the market value of humanities skills and capacities in today's global economy. Based on market evidence found in this blog, students would be smarter to consider interdisciplinary combinations as more than the sum of the parts. The market is not looking just for technical minors OR for the humanities in isolation, but both and in interesting combinations.

When asked what kinds of skills American employers are looking for in recent grads, labor researcher, Phil Gardner, sums it up like this:

"There are really only two choices for graduates who want a lot of options: to be a technically savvy liberal arts graduate or liberally educated technical graduate."

And this view is based a survey of over 10,000 companies.

Also missing in the Cornell piece is an emphasis on internship experience. Well above 80% of employers of college grads require it.

read about Cornell here:

Management consultant, Robert W. Goldfarb, comments on the kinds of skills liberal arts grads currently need to bridge the gap into the marketplace. The article underscores the value of the liberal arts degree but also the necessity of supplementing it with "hard" skills readily identifiable by the marketplace. What are those skills, according to Goldfarb?

read here:

PROVO, Utah (January 30, 2014)--"We are in the middle of a revolution." That's what Hans Fenstermacher, CEO of Global and Localization Associations, told a select group of industry, government and academic leaders at a Humanities+ symposium held at Brigham Young University. And for students in the College of Humanities, this type of revolution is good news.
Fenstermacher was referring to society's growing use of social media and information technology, and how language is the new oil - language runs everything. As international communication increases, so does the demand for language skills, and students in the College of Humanities, particularly those pursuing foreign languages, are showing that they can meet those demands.
The symposium reflects a joint initiative sponsored by the College of Humanities and the Humanities Center. Tony Brown, Associate Professor of Russian and symposium organizer, wanted to organize a conference to discuss how to bridge the humanities with industry, government and other fields.
"Why not coordinate what we're doing here in the humanities with engineering, for example, and give our students the best of both worlds," Brown said.
For Brown, the symposium was all about determining the market value of studying a foreign language and finding a way to present that to the rest of the world. He said that right now, the humanities can only assume, relying largely on anecdotal evidence to understand outside demands. "We had to start somewhere," Brown said.
The symposium was that starting point - where leaders of industry, government and academia could determine the market value of what is learned in the humanities, particularly the value of advanced level foreign language skills. "Once we identify specific skills that employers want from students," Brown said, "we can build curricula that meet industry demands." By doing so, the humanities benefit industry, which in turn, fuels interest back into the humanities.
As Dave Waddell, Assistant Dean in the College, put it, the symposium "opened the door wider on humanities and the world of work."
This symposium, Waddell said, "informed us, as deans and administrators, of the conversation and the need for languages."
The symposium's conversations are significant for students within the College. Brown noted that "students were the driving force for organizing this symposium because, ultimately, they stand to benefit from a symbiotic relationship between the humanities and the professional world."
Ray Clifford, Director of BYU's Center for Language Studies, said that the symposium emphasized this need for a bridge between humanities and the professional world. He encourages students to "find a way to enhance their marketability by demonstrating how their experiences in the humanities have given them the skills that are needed in today's society."
The symposium underscored a growing need for proficient foreign language skills. Brown reiterated that for students, "A humanities education, particularly with an emphasis in foreign languages, gives one a competitive advantage when applying to professional schools and to any number of jobs in the private and public sectors."
The symposium is not the only initiative the College has supported to help students achieve their professional goals. Humanities+ provides internship, study abroad and career opportunities. The Center for Language Studies offers Language Certificates to document students' second language proficiency, not just for humanities majors, but for all BYU students. "There are more than enough opportunities to learn language and cultural competencies if students want it," Waddell said. The College of Humanities, he continued, "is actively invested in the future of the students. And that's what this symposium was about."
Presentations from the symposium will be available soon on the College of Humanities YouTube channel - visit
--Stephanie Bahr Bentley BA' English '14

In a recent New Republic article, John McWhorter tries (but fails) to convince us that learning French is a waste of time. He wrote an almost identical article back in 2010, which I critiqued in the Humanities+ Blog here:

17% of job openings in the UK go unfilled due to a lack of language skills.

read here:
"Speaking on a panel at the World Economic Forum, Mr. Rubenstein, the co-chairman of the private equity firm, said American policy makers and educators have put too much of a focus on the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics at the expense of the study of literature, philosophy and other areas in the humanities."

"Humanities teach problem-solving skills that enable students to stand out among their peers and to achieve success in the business world, Mr. Rubenstein said. Career-specific skills can be learned later, he said, noting that many of Wall Street's top executives studied the humanities."

read here:

Students in science and engineering often feel that required courses in the humanities are a waste of time. They would avoid them if they could. Here is a scientist who explains how deep familiarity with the classic texts in the humanities generates and maintains a healthy skepticism that scientists need in order to avoid self-delusion and hubris. Read here:

A recent study, based on a survey of 50,000 employers, makes two crucial points that every college student be aware of:

"An internship is the single most important credential for recent college graduates to have on their résumé."

"Internships present a paradox. While a college degree delivers higher earnings over a lifetime, it is often internships that start graduates on their way. And yet the experiences unfold almost entirely outside traditional academic bounds."

Read about the study here:
There are many reasons. But this report focuses on the unexpected ones, such as the lack of soft skills like interpersonal communication, office relations, critical thinking - i.e., skills that are likely to be developed and enhanced by studying the humanities. Also missing is the internship experience.

"One thing that does appear to make a difference is internships, according to a Harris Interactive survey of more than 2,000 college students and 1,000 hiring managers on behalf of textbook company Chegg: more than 80% of employers want new grads they hire to have completed a formal internship, but only 8% of students say interning in a field related to their major is something they spend a lot of time doing. Instead, the top extracurricular activities are hanging out with friends, working in an unrelated job and eating out."
Burning Glass conducted a study of liberal arts majors and employment data. There is good and bad news. The bad news is: the unemployment rate for liberal arts grads is higher than for several other majors. The good news, however, is that the marketplace is looking for a mix of liberal arts and technical skills. Liberal arts and humanities students who are not pursuing graduate or professional study should heed the message: minor in a technical or business related field and do internships. The study claims that this combination yields demonstrable results.

read here:
Have you studied a language? Do you have an additional skill? Chances are that you are more valuable to employers than you think. Read here about the current boom in the hiring of students with foreign language competencies:

This is the title of a piece in today's NYT on Wake Forest University and its approach to bridging the liberal arts to careers. The article is worth a read but read also the readers' comments. One point that emerges, and is confirmed by our research, is the need for humanities majors to combine the liberal arts with technical skills. Unless students are going to professional school (Law is a prime candidate for philosophy majors), some hard skill is required for entry into the market. According to a lot of anecdotal evidence, the liberal arts dimension takes over and adds comparative value to careers a little later in the process. Also missing from the Wake Forest approach is any serious focus the international marketplace, international internships, and so on. Our students have found enormous career-enhancement value in combining technical fields with foreign language/cultural study and an international internship.

read here:
There are many reasons the world looks to the U.S. as the model for higher education, but a big one is the type of innovative thinking that results from the combination of broad and deep thinking. The American bachelor's degree, in fact, encourages this hybridity by requiring students to pursue general education before specializing in a major.  While both students and professors often consider GE coursework a waste of time (and it certainly can be), situating thought at the borders of disciplines is a proven source of intellectual dynamism and creativity. This article takes the idea a step further by touting the advantages of the double major, especially when the majors are in fields very different from each other.

Read more here:
The American Association of Arts and Sciences recently issued a report card on the Humanities. Despite a rash of reports by the popular press on our state of "crisis", the AAAS points to some positive news, including:

-84% of humanities majors are satisfied with their choice of major
-humanities majors are more widely distributed throughout the economic sectors than any other major
-the number of majors in the humanities as grown increasingly since the late 1980s
-between 2000-'09 humanities majors scored higher on the GMAT than business majors (!)
and so on.

See the infographic of the report here:

Business Insider argues that the liberal arts are highly valued by the marketplace but mainly when enhanced by specific skill sets.

To find out which skills are desirable, read here:!

Leon Wieseltier takes on Steven Pinker's recent broadside against the Humanities (in defense of "scientism")  in this week's The New Republic.

read here:

Colbert invites Richard Brodhead to his show to talk about The Heart of the Matter - the recent report on the state of the Humanities in the U.S. The study was conducted by a team of scholars, writers, politicians, CEOs and other dignitaries and coordinated by Brodhead.

Watch here:
Christina Paxson, economist and current president of Brown University, provides long-term economic and intellectual reasons for supporting the Humanities:

read here:

*thanks to Daryl Lee for link

Mark Edmundson (professor of English, University of Virginia) pushes back against those touting the "marketable skills" of Humanities disciplines. Reaching back to Plato, Edmundson reminds us that the Humanities are ultimately about investigating the most meaningful and virtuous ways to conduct one's life. He's afraid that too much talk of Humanities and careers will hollow out our core values.

Agreed: Humanities professors should not see themselves or their disciplines as "job training." And student "success" should not be measured only in financial terms. At the same time, 90% of college students consider university study as career preparation. Inevitably we all must confront students who naturally want some reassurance that their time and money will not be wasted in unemployment. Since there is plenty of market evidence that Humanities students are highly valued, why not share this information? Why not even advertise it so that students who have chosen the Humanities (probably for the virtues Edmundson points to) can cultivate the skill sets employers are seeking while learning how to live life virtuously? We are not engaged in a zero-sum game; there is no sacrifice of intellectual principle or idealism when we point students to potential career pathways. Indeed, the more we can do this the healthier our disciplines will be over the long term.

read here:
In an article in this week's New Republic, Nora Caplan-Bricker reprises other recent articles by Nate Silver and Benjamin Schmidt to debunk the Humanities "decline" or "crisis" narratives. Most articles pointing to a current "crisis" are based on a dramatic decline in 'degrees completed' in the 1960s. Caplan-Bricker reminds us that a big reason for the drop in the 60s was the opening of professional majors to women. Since then the number of degrees completed in the Humanities has been more or less stable. Why then do critics complain about a crisis today due to a demographic shift from decades ago? If there is, indeed, a current crisis (and there is, for example, in academic employment for recent PhDs) we need to be precise about its causes and potential remedies. The typical strategy is to cite an isolated drop in enrollment here and a department consolidation there in order to point to larger issues with curriculum or the putative lack of marketability of humanities degrees.

read here:
Based on a survey of major employers, Hart Research Associates find that a combination of technical and liberal arts training is highly valued. According to the study, "The majority of employers agree that having both field-specific knowledge and skills and a broad range of skills and knowledge is most important for recent college graduates to achieve long-term career success. Few think that having field-specific knowledge and skills alone is what is most needed for individuals' career success."

Read study here:
This article repeats some of the misinformation about the humanities in decline, but it does get this right: employers currently expect college grads to be prepared for the workplace right out of college. The old idea of on-the-job training is now called an internship, and students need to gain this experience while in college in order to have a shot a job after.

See here:
Or: why philosophy is an excellent major. See here:

There has been a burst of commentary this summer on the humanities crisis (or non-crisis), largely in response to two reports. One was conducted by Harvard University (found here) and the other by a national commission sponsored by the AAAS, titled The Heart of the Matter. Both reports sound alarm bells about the decline of the humanities, pointing to lower undergraduate enrollments as the most visible sign. Many, including Michael Bérubé, Anthony Grafton and quant wizard, Nate Silver, have poked serious holes in the crisis/decline narratives. So have we in a Chronicle piece found here.

The story is much more complex than the "decline" narratives report. Whether or not there is a "crisis" depends largely on what dimension of the humanities critics focus on (graduate study and the academic job market, for example, are clear cases of a crisis) and how the data is contextualized historically. In most cases, pessimists have a decline narrative already in place and then proceed to cherry-pick data confirming that bias. This then becomes a pretext for complaining about "wrong turns" the Humanities have taken in the past and how to remedy them for the future.

Just as I was getting ready to provide a roundup of the recent articles, The Chronicle of Higher Ed beat me to the punch. Have a look here:

It's true that this article reflects one employer's view. But this view aligns with the research in Academically Adrift and a lot of other direct testimony by forward-thinking employers.

*thanks to Kristen Matthews for link

A few universities in Great Britain and Holland are moving away from specialization. The argument being that the modern economy requires increasing flexibility and forward thinking. Is this change the sign of a new trend?

read here:
Tom Friedman writes today in the NYT about a new kind of HR/job training company - a start-up focused on bridging the gap between job-seekers and job-creators in the so-called "new" economy. Citing the CEO, Eleonora Sharef: "The market is broken on both sides... Many applicants don't have the skills that employers are seeking, and don't know how to get them. But employers also ... have unrealistic expectations." "In the new economy, you have to prove yourself, and we're an avenue for candidates to do that."

The good news is that job recruiters in many companies are not fixated on specific majors; any degree is in play, including humanities and liberal arts degrees. This news corresponds to current labor research and to what I'm regularly told by recruiters. What today's labor market values is effective communication, people skills, creativity and problem-solving capacities, no matter how or where these capacities are acquired.

These, of course, are precisely the skills that humanities and liberal arts students learn to cultivate. Their problem is different: they lack the immediately marketable technical skills to land the first job. According to Sharef, "A degree document is no longer a proxy for the competency employers need." 

This gap between market requirements and educational deficits is structural and likely to remain in place since most university curricula are not designed with this hybridity in mind. In the meantime, new companies like the one Friedman writes about are likely to flourish... unless university leaders and the advising/career services community respond with creative solutions of their own.

read more:

Listen to Markus Smith, Matt Wickman and Scott Sprenger discuss the current state of the humanities in the U.S.

The show will air on Thursday, May 23 at 11:00 am and 8:00 pm on Classical 89 and 11:30 am and 6:00 pm on BYU Radio.

It will also be archived at BYU Radio.
From a speech by Geoffrey Galt Harpham, Director, National Humanities Center

Bruce Cole, appeared at the inauguration of the new governor of the State of Mississippi, one of the most deeply conservative states in the union, to state that the humanities speak to "what makes us human:  the legacy of our past, the ideas and principles that motivate us, and the eternal questions that we still ponder."  When you think about it, he said, this was what the 9-11 bombers were really attacking, and what the brave firemen and policemen who came to the aid of the survivors were defending.  As Cole put it, "the values implicit in the study of the humanities are part of why we were attacked on September 11.  The free and fearless exchange of ideas, respect for individual conscience, belief in the power of education . . . all these things are anathema to our country's enemies.  Understanding and affirming these principles is part of the battle. Today, it is especially urgent that we study American institutions, culture and history.  Defending our democracy demands more than successful military campaigns. It also requires an understanding of the ideals, ideas and institutions that have shaped our country."

See full speech here: .
Is college about broad intellectual cultivation, research and self-discovery or is it about learning job skills? This is the subject of a current debate in Texas, which reflects a nationwide debate over the purpose and future of higher education. As in many such debates, high-level decision makers in Texas want to streamline college degrees and to focus them on immediate marketability. The goal is understandable, especially in a context of rising tuition. But do we need to cast doubt on the value of general education and the humanities in the process?

Missing in the debate is the fact that the modern economy depends on creativity and innovation, which is often generated by tapping into a broad range of knowledge, skills and competencies unavailable in single disciplines. The same goes for individual careers: testimony by leaders in fields ranging from medicine, engineering to technology all suggest that long-term career success depends on a balance or diversity of approaches, including the skills and modes of inquiry taught in the humanities. In other words, market evidence itself demonstrates that general education and the humanities have a crucial role to play in training students for successful careers.

Hunter Rawlings of the AAU puts it like this: "You just don't know what your education is going to result in...". "Many of the kids graduating from college these days are going to hold a number of different jobs in their lives, and many of those jobs have not yet been invented. For a world like that, what's the best education? Seems to me it's a very general education that enables you to think critically." 
more here:

More important for many jobs, according to a recent AACU survey of employers, are skills such as analytical thinking, persuasive communication and problem-solving.

read more here:

*thanks to Barbie De Soto for link

Thomas Friedman of the NYT argues that economic growth and long-term employment depend on innovation... that the jobs of the future don't yet exist, they need to be invented. His big point is that American education needs to be reinvented to focus on the skills of innovation and creativity.

If Friedman's general point is important and provocative, he is overly optimistic in his analysis and conclusions. Not everyone can invent their own job via innovation. The imperative in his title therefore seems somewhat flippant. He also does not take into account the social, cultural and structural differences in his comparison of schooling in the US and Finland. Finally, while innovation often occurs at the intersections of disciplines, it is unlikely that students can "think critically" and imagine pathways to innovation if they haven't first internalized a significant body of knowledge and specific methods of inquiry. Friedman assumes that existing knowledge is available as "facts" via MOOCs or Google; yet what student, without the proper guidance and motivation, is able to make the imaginative leap from facts to invention?

Training in the liberal arts has traditionally served American students well, both as citizens in a free society and as innovators in a free economy. I would argue that innovation depends--paradoxically--not on a break with this educational tradition but on remembering what it is and relearning how to seriously engage its modes of inquiry with the problems and issues of our time.

read here:

Today's NYT has a discussion forum for college bound students, tackling the question: is there a safe major that will guarantee career success?

You'll hear the typical arguments: "Study science and technology.... English and philosophy are a waste of time..." "No, study the liberal arts... value is not defined by return on investment, but by civic engagement," and so on. Both of these positions make some sense. But only by ignoring certain underlying realities. Science and technology can be useful for getting first jobs, but can also be self-limiting without other soft skills. Good jobs in these areas also require graduate training. And, true, English and philosophy degrees are the not the most obvious ticket to entry into the labor market.Yet evidence shows that many students in these majors thrive in the marketplace, especially when judged over the lifetime of a career. They are also excellent preparation for all professional schools, including medicine.

The response most aligned with our hybrid approach of Humanities+/+Humanities is the one by William Pannapacker. He encapsulates his position with the statement: "Don't be the English major who says, 'I'm scared of math and computers.' Don't be a chemistry major who says, 'I never read books." As we have argued repeatedly: humanities and liberal arts degrees are still viable and highly valued; the trick for gaining a toehold in the market, though, is to supplement such degrees with undergraduate research, a foreign language, some training in hard skills and/or internships.

Today's rapidly-changing global economy makes the path to long-term career success highly unpredictable. The market places a premium on flexibility, curiosity, drive and the ability to innovate. What single discipline in college prepares students for such conditions? It's not clear. The best strategy is to combine disciplines and experiences in imaginative ways in order to create your own career pathways.

To the question: Does Your Major Matter? the authors of this article respond "yes" and "no". Various studies show that engineering and tech majors are the most employable and highest paying majors immediately out of college. The story becomes more complex and counter-intuitive when you factor in long-term pay, career advancement over a lifetime, job satisfaction, and so on.


"Regular readers of our column know that we are unabashed fans and supporters of the humanities and the creative and performing arts. We believe that the world's thorniest problems will not be solved--nor will our nation be secure--without an understanding of ethics, cultures other than our own, and what it means to be fully human. And we have seen first-hand that students who complete liberal arts degrees have deeply satisfying--and productive--personal and professional lives."

More here:

*thanks to Dave Waddell for link

According to this BBC report, science and art, once taught in tandem in the time of Da Vinci, have become too radically separated in the modern university. Science and engineering are now paying the price because they are focusing too much on data and rote knowledge and not enough on unique combinations of scientific know-how and artistic thinking. New pathways toward innovation are not found in more science, we are told, but in the development of the imagination and creative vision to harness scientific thinking in new ways.

Einstein often made the same point about the process of theorization: "I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world."

*thanks to Lynn Williams for the link

According to a recent study, employers are finding that recent college grads lack the skills required for entry into the labor market. Even students with "marketable" technical training often lack the kind of liberal arts training that most innovative companies need.

One problem is that employers no longer do job training--they expect students to be "job-ready" right out of college.Yet faculty in many liberal arts or humanities colleges do not (or do not want) to see themselves as playing a role in career preparation. Even in cases where they want to help, the way forward is unclear. Combine this with 90% of college students who consider college primarily as job training and you begin to see a deepening crisis for everyone involved.

Where does this disconnect come from? What are the solutions? See article here:

Our approach to these challenges in the Humanities College at BYU has been to:

1) Encourage students to balance their education between technical/vocational and humanities disciplines. A hybrid approach--what Phil Gardner calls "a technically savvy liberal arts major or a liberally trained technical major"--is now what the market requires. Make this known to students, faculty and advisors across campus. Often we confine students to our own academic silos.

2) Focus on advising as the ground zero for messaging about how to bridge academics and careers.

3) Strongly encourage or require professionally-relevant experiences, such as undergraduate research or internships. All the evidence points to the internship as the deciding factor. But make sure it's the right kind of internship and of sufficient duration to be meaningful.

4) Run advising workshops that teach students how to discuss the relation between academic study and internship experiences in ways that resonate with future employers.

We've posted on this before: polls show that a majority of students see college as career preparation and credentialing. They most often choose their major based on salary. This logic obviously excludes the humanities because entry-level salaries for humanities majors are comparatively low. See here:

This article effectively pushes back against the conventional bromides and misinformation about the relation between the humanities and (lack of) employment opportunity. What it does not say is that the market evidence shows that (1) employers want a combination of technical and liberal arts training and (2) humanities majors or technical majors with humanities exposure tend to climb in organizations at a faster rate than purely technical majors over the lifetime of a career.

From the Harvard Medical School Website:

Demonstrate aptitude in the biological and physical sciences during their undergraduate years, but not to the exclusion of the humanities and social sciences.
(A study at Harvard Medical School has shown that students are successful in their medical studies regardless of undergraduate concentration, providing that they have had adequate science preparation. Students are urged to strive for a balanced and liberal education rather than specialized training. No preference is given to applicants who have majored in the sciences over those who have majored in the humanities.)

  • 7. Language
Because effective communication among the medical care team and between physicians and patients is so crucial to the delivery of care, all matriculants should be fluent and have a nuanced facility in English. Mastery of a foreign language, although not required, is a valuable skill that expands intellectual and cultural horizons and that reinforces preparation for patient care in a multicultural society.

*Thanks to Greg Stallings for the link
Employers are increasingly on the lookout for graduates with international experience. Yet they are finding that study abroad isn't sufficient for their needs. Or, at least, students don't know how to talk about study abroad in ways relevant to employers. This explains the nationwide movement away from study abroad to international internships. 

Here's an excerpt from a recent NYT article:

J. P. Matychak, director of career services . . . saw that employers placed a premium on international experience, but the study-abroad students he counseled were unable to articulate how their programs prepared them for global work.

And so he upended the traditional study-abroad experience, as many colleges have done. He made work the focus of the summer program, which this year is open to the School of Arts and Sciences. "We put internships at the foundation and academics on the perimeter," he says.
Such a focus might make a liberal arts dean shudder, but these are different times. International internships are growing. In 2000-1, 7,000 students traveled abroad for work and college credit. In 2010-11, the number was 16,400, with another 8,700 working without credit, according to the Institute of International Education.

Students want to study abroad (a record 274,000 did so for credit last year), but they also know that in a soft job market and increasingly global economy, they need an international work record and the connections that can bring. Study abroad may no longer be enough to make them stand out, nor does it shed light on a country's business culture. Work-study abroad does double duty.

And both are connected to skills and knowledge learned in liberal arts majors: "global competency" and "cross-functionality"

The debate on the "future" of the university is a debate, seemingly endless, between those who believe the university should be about vocational training and those who think its purpose is to develop intellectual capacity, critical thinking, judgement, wisdom, etc., via the liberal arts.

Excerpt: "The tension between a market model and a Socratic model was nicely captured by two statements Spar made in succession. The first warmed my heart: "We want to teach students things they don't want to know." That is, rather than regarding students as consumers (all the rage these days in places like England and Texas), we should regard them as yet-to-be-formed intellects who are often best served by saying no to their desires -- as we have traditionally. But then Spar immediately added, "Yet, we can't be too removed from the marketplace."

This tension in Spar's thinking between practicality and idealism may seem somewhat schizophrenic, but it is not unhealthy. In fact, it captures precisely what labor researcher Phil Gardner at Michigan State University claims the labor market is looking for (and will increasingly be looking for in the future): either technically trained liberal arts majors or liberally trained majors of technical disciplines. In other words, it's not one or the other that is required for long-term success, it is both.

More here:
I've posted a couple of articles encouraging students to measure carefully the costs and risks of going to law school in a down market. The Dean of Case Western Reserve Law School says enough already with the overblown arguments against law school:
Governor Walker's plan is based on the idea that the university should be a pipeline to existing jobs, much like a vocational school model. The idea is understandable but misguided for reasons that Benjamin Rifkin lays out here:
Why it that? Because:

"The people who will succeed in more expensive labor markets like the U.S. will be those who can think creatively and generate the IDEAS that will propel economic growth. Such skills are best fostered in a traditional liberal arts environment.... If you teach students one trade, that skill might be obsolete in a few years. But if you teach people how to think and look at lots of information and connect dots - all skills that a classic liberal education gives you - you will thrive."

This doesn't mean that students should avoid learning technical skills. The best path forward is a hybrid of liberal and technical learning.

More here:

Author of Don't Go to Law School, Paul Campos, warns graduates of the perils of going into deep debt to become an attorney. A glut of law grads combined with a net decline of good-paying positions in law firms (due to outsourcing and new technologies) has resulted in high un- or under-employment. Read here:
Some of the more famous ones featured here explain what was valuable about their undergraduate education: 

USA Today reports that liberal arts students can have a leg up in a floundering economy. The abilities to "think critically, reason analytically and write effectively" tend to lead to lower unemployment rates, less student loan debt, and great independence.

Read more here:
A new book, Rethinking Undergraduate Business Education: Liberal Learning for the Profession (Jossey-Bass, 2011), proposes to import liberal arts training into the business major to correct some of its deficiencies. An article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed says that this proposal is a response to Academically Adrift, a book claiming that business majors score well below liberal arts majors on a range of learning outcomes.The question, however, remains whether the business major can be corrected by quick fixes. An abundance of evidence (chronicled in this blog) suggests that a better solution is for students to study the liberal arts as a primary major augmented by business coursework and internships. CEO after CEO claims that liberal arts majors think more creatively and communicate better than business majors; they have better people and leadership skills; and they tend, over the long term, to rise in company ranks.

More here:

*thanks to Cory Leonard for the link
This Newsweek article reflects research conducted by Georgetown on the value of college degrees according to least unemployment after graduation, salary, long-term advancement potential, etc.

See more here:

*thanks to Corry Cropper for link
"A liberal arts education also offers the ability to focus on large ideas. We live in a world where everyone is multitasking, often skimming the surface and reacting to sound bites. But as undergraduates, we had the opportunity to read great literature and history, to focus and to consider. This developed a standard of depth and care that calibrates our work for the rest of our lives."

Susan Crown, Henry Crown and Co. Investment Firm (qtd. in Victor E. Ferrall, Jr., Liberal Arts at the Brink, p. 19)
"Anyone making the case for the irrelevance of liberal arts colleges cannot explain away the oversize contribution that graduates of liberal arts colleges continue to make to commerce, science, technology, the arts, and higher education.

As you know, just 3 percent of American college graduates are educated at a residential liberal arts college. Yet the alumni of liberal arts institutions account for almost 20 percent of all U.S. presidents. Roughly 20 percent of Pulitzer Prize winners from 1960 to 1998 in drama, history, and poetry earned their baccalaureate degrees at liberal arts colleges and universities.

On a per capita basis, liberal arts colleges today produce nearly twice as many doctorates in science as other institutions. And by some estimates, about one in 12 of the nation's wealthiest CEOs graduated from a liberal arts institution.

At the same time, many of the key instructional breakthroughs in higher education--the freshman seminar, single-course intensive study terms, honors programs, and senior theses--were all first pioneered at liberal arts colleges. It is telling that in China--where officials are frustrated by the nation's comparative lack of Nobel prizes and innovation among university graduates--has now opened its first liberal arts college."

The obvious question that this record prompts, is, why have the graduates of liberal arts colleges flourished? The answers are several--but all of them highlight the continued importance of the liberal arts model.

More here:

"Liberal education is about cultivating in students a set of capacities and talents, rather than preparing them for a particular profession or imparting to them a particular body of knowledge or set of discrete skills. I think liberal education develops a person's capacities like nothing else.

[...] To help students cultivate humane instincts, to develop creative and disciplined minds for lives of leadership and service - I don't think that's a given at liberal arts colleges, so it's the combination of those things that makes for a compelling education and a compelling community.

But, liberal education is always going to be expensive. It's highly selective. It's labor intensive, and it's never going to be generally available in any society. It costs too much. So if you're going to make the case for it, you have to make the case that somehow the existence of those institutions disproportionately benefits the community."

More here:

Scholarships & Fellowship Opportunities

Alpha Kappa Alpha Merit Scholarship: Offers $750-$2,500 to undergraduate and graduate students who   are excelling academically. Deadline: April 15, 2012

DAAD: German Studies Research Grant (DAAD): The DAAD offers the opportunity for undergraduates and graduates to study abroad in Germany. At least two years of college German, or the equivalent, are required. Deadline: May 1, 2012
 Mitchell Scholarship: The Mitchell Scholarship funds graduate study or a second bachelor degree at any university in Ireland or Northern Ireland. July 1, 2012
Marshall Scholarship: The Marshall Scholarship funds graduate study or a second bachelor degree at any university in the United Kingdom.July 1, 2012
Rhodes Scholarship: The Rhodes Scholarship funds two years of graduate study at the University of Oxford. July 1, 2012


Recent college graduates who as seniors scored highest on a standardized test to measure how well they think, reason and write -- skills most associated with a liberal arts education -- were far more likely to be better off financially than those who scored lowest, says the survey, released Wednesday by the Social Science Research Council, an independent organization.

It found that students who had mastered the ability to think critically, reason analytically and write effectively by their senior year were:

•Three times less likely to be unemployed than those who hadn't (3.1% vs. 9.6%).

Recent graduates

A survey of 925 young adults who graduated college during the economic recession, offers a snapshot of how they were faring two years later:

74% were receiving financial help from parents

65% had student loans, owing an average $27,200

46% owed an average $1,880 on credit-card debt

22% had "moved back home" with their parents or relatives

9% had student loan debt averaging more than $50,00

Source: Social Science Research Council

•Half as likely to be living with their parents (18% vs. 35%).

•Far less likely to have amassed credit card debt (37% vs. 51%).


"The biggest complaint: The undergraduate degrees focus too much on the nuts and bolts of finance and accounting and don't develop enough critical thinking and problem-solving skills through long essays, in-class debates and other hallmarks of liberal-arts courses.

Companies say they need flexible thinkers with innovative ideas and a broad knowledge base derived from exposure to multiple disciplines. And while most recruiters don't outright avoid business majors, companies in consulting, technology and even finance say they're looking for candidates with a broader academic background."

More here:

The student answers: "Your company will teach me the industry. My degree taught me to learn, analyze, and think through complex issues. It's also taught me to communicate effectively through writing and speech. That's what I'll bring to your company."

The manager stated that he was very skeptical, and not sure why he was interviewing an English major. The student's answer, however, sealed the deal. He was the only non-business major among the applicants.

This was reported by a BYU English major who just landed his first job in supply chain management...

It helps to know that the student enhanced his degree with internship experiences. He also learned from our crack advisors how to discuss his humanities training in ways that employers find valuable.

What College Is For

From the Chronicle of Higher Ed:

"What makes the American college experience valuable--and how can we preserve it? Andrew Delbanco, director of American studies at Columbia University, wrestles with those questions in his new book, College: What It Was, Is, and Should Be. He spoke with us about why liberal education is a principle worth fighting for and how colleges can lead the charge."

Listen here:

For students who hope to gain the most career impact from study abroad, results indicate that they should choose an internship as part of their curriculum. Remarkably, 70 percent of intern respondents reported that study abroad ignited interest in a career direction pursued after the experience, compared to 60 percent of non-intern respondents. In addition, 83 percent said that it allowed them to acquire skill sets that influenced their career path, compared to 75 percent who did not intern.

Although there is not always a significant statistical difference between students who attended local university classes and those who did not, it is important to mention that students who attended courses at the local university did experience greater long-term language benefits and were more likely to work or volunteer abroad than their counterparts. The biggest difference between the two groups is in the area of relationships. Of those who attended local university classes, 31 percent still maintain contact with host-country friends, compared to 16 percent of respondents who did not study at the local university.

more here:


At Canadian universities, business schools are light-years ahead of the rest of the campus in raising their global profile.

Intensive foreign-student-recruitment efforts, friendly Canadian immigration rules, mandatory study-abroad requirements, and, in some cases, the option to pursue programs in multiple languages have combined to pack a punch in recent years.

More here:


"We also need to make clear that in promoting the humanities, we are not deriding the sciences or encouraging trade-offs between the two. For the health of our society, we need to train minds that have learned plural disciplines and can move freely among them.  Our colleagues in China and Singapore are trying to figure out the mysterious secret of liberal arts education, the broad-based, integrative training spanning the arts and sciences which they see as producing America's adaptive, inventive kind of leader. It will be ironic if we fail to nourish and protect this asset just when others are recognizing its value.

To develop fully, skills in language, the arts and social inquiry must start being built at early ages, then broadened and deepened in further stages of schooling.  Too often, the segments of this educational pathway are quite detached from each other, with fragmenting results at best."

More here:
Thinking of law school? Make sure to go with your eyes wide open. This recent piece in the Atlantic argues that the law school "bubble" has popped:

"In fact, students who are exposed to more modern methods of history education--where critical thinking and research are emphasized--tend to perform better in math and science. As a case in point, students who participate in National History Day--actually a year-long program that gets students in grades 6-12 doing historical research--consistently outperform their peers on state standardized tests, not only in social studies but in science and math as well.

In my position as CEO of a firm employing over 80,000 engineers, I can testify that most were excellent engineers--but the factor that most distinguished those who advanced in the organization was the ability to think broadly and read and write clearly."

More here:

General Dempsey argues eloquently how the study of English has been invaluable to his military career. Watch here:


The first, most practical defense is that the liberal arts (and sciences) are the best possible preparation for success in the learned professions--law, medicine, teaching--as well as in the less traditionally learned but increasingly arcane professions of business, finance, and high-tech innovation.

It's insurance against obsolescence; in any rapidly changing field (and every field is changing rapidly these days), if you only focus on learning specific materials that are pertinent in 2012, rather than learning about them in a broader context, you will soon find that your training will have become valueless. Most important, with a liberal education you will have learned how to learn, so that you will be able to do research to answer questions in your field that will come up years from now, questions that nobody could even have envisioned in 2012, much less taught you how to answer.

more here:

U.S. News says that liberal arts majors often drop through the cracks in employer job searches, not because companies don't value you but because their search engines don't always see you. Find ways to make yourself more visible and desirable here:

Six experts on the global economy debate this question. See what they have to say here:

Thomas Friedman makes an excellent case for why the study of the liberal arts, language and culture should play a role in American education. Americans can no longer sit on their laurels; the global economy requires that students stay abreast of world events and trends and to anticipate opportunity.

read here:
A young graduate tells the story of finding his way in China. If you find yourself in a similar predicament of un- or underemployment, you might consider his invitation:


One of the best choices you can make when planning your college years is the decision to learn a foreign language, whatever your major. Learning another language will open the door to another culture and enhance your career opportunities in the increasingly global economy. Having strong skills in another language may give you an edge when applying for a job. That unique ability will set you apart from other applicants and show a potential employer that you have demonstrated long-term discipline in acquiring specialized knowledge.

more here:
Journalists like to beat up on the humanities. We don't need to look far to find fresh stories on why universities need to get back to job training and to limit students majoring in the liberal arts. Art History, like literature or philosophy, is a favorite target for its lack of utility.

Read here about the serious problems with these assumptions and how and why the market values skills learned in Art History:

The authors of "Fear of Being Useful," a recent article in Inside Higher Ed, expose the fallacies in what passes for conventional wisdom on  humanities degrees--that they're a waste of time, a ticket to unemployment, and so on.

Their survey of the types of communicative and thinking skills valued by the modern marketplace holds out promise for humanities grads. They also highlight innovative programs around the country, including BYU's Humanities+ initiatives, that are helping students bridge humanities coursework with career opportunity.

See here:
From the NLSC website:

The National Language Service Corps, NLSC, is a group of individuals like you, who can speak, listen and understand English and other languages. These individuals (known as "NLSC Members") make themselves available to help others in times of emergency or crisis wherever that may be. They have the opportunity to help their neighbors and fellow citizens by participating in national and state efforts when their expertise can truly make a difference. Our Members can be called upon in time of need to use their interpreting and translating skills to help others in the United States and around the world during short-term assignments.

Our Members have participated in assignments in places ranging from Atlanta, Thailand and Indonesia and some have been able to help from their own homes.

Somewhere there are people who need help, in their language. Be one who offers that help. Use your language skills to bridge the divide between cultures. Do you speak more than one language? Then consider applying for membership!

more here:

The UNDP International Policy Centre for Inclusive Growth (IPC-IG) offers internships to graduate students in Brazil in the following areas: Communications, Outreach and Advocacy.

Details here:

The State Dept just created a new e-internship program that you can paricipate in without leaving home. See details here: 

The Virtual Student Foreign Service (VSFS), a part of a growing effort by the State Department to harness technology and a commitment to global service among young people to facilitate new forms of diplomatic engagement, is piloting a program through the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU) to offer students from Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSIs) the opportunity to serve as virtual (eInterns) for U.S. diplomatic posts in the Americas and offices in the Western Hemisphere Affairs Bureau. Working from college and university campuses in the United States and throughout the world, eInterns (American students working virtually) are partnered with our U.S. diplomatic posts overseas and State Department domestic offices to conduct digital diplomacy that reflects the realities of our networked world. VSFS eInternships are unpaid and applications are rolling.

more here:

Visit for information on the following scholarship opportunities:

Harry S. Truman Scholarship
Are you a junior planning on working in civil or public service? The Truman scholarship funds $30,000 for senior year and graduate school for students who have plans to work in a broadly defined public service capacity. Deadline: December 2, 2011.

National Security Education Program (NSEP) Boren Awards
The NSEP offers undergraduate and graduate awards of $4,000-$30,000 for study abroad in areas that are critical to U.S. security interests: Africa, Asia, Eastern & Central Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Deadline: January 2012 (TBA).

Institute for Humane Studies (IHS) Fellowship

This fellowship provides $12,000 for students who have clearly demonstrated research interest in the intellectual and institutional foundations of a free society. Available for juniors, seniors, and graduate students.  Deadline: January 3, 2012 (deadlines vary according to graduate institution and discipline).

James Madison Scholarship
This fellowship offers secondary level teachers of history and government up to $24,000 to complete a master's degree in history, political science, ,or related fields.  After earning the degree, fellows are obligated to teach grades 7-12 for one year for each full year of study under the fellowship. Deadline: March 1, 2012.

The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is currently accepting applications for internships in their Wash. D.C. offices. Here are some of the possibilities:

BYU students can apply for these directly and are eligible for financial assistance. You can also arrange an internship through the Washington Seminar Program.

See NEH application instructions here:

Washington Seminar Website:

In addition to the NEH, check these possibilities:

For financial assistance call your department's internship coordinator or Dave Waddell in the College of Humanities Advising Center.

President Michael T. Benson of Southern Utah University argues for the economic and civilizational necessity of training today's youth in the liberal arts, and he does this in an economic and cultural climate increasingly hostile to the humanities and other disciplines whose immediate monetary value is not obvious.

Here are his key points:

"Difficult economic times such as we are in certainly require job and skill training that can result in immediate employment, to be sure. Nonetheless, to argue that Utah students enrolled in more traditional liberal arts programs have nothing to offer in terms of applicable job skills for the real world reveals an alarming ignorance of the irreplaceable value of a liberal education."

"At its core, LEAP (Liberal Education and America's Promise) states and institutions are committed to producing graduates with the portable skills necessary to ensure success in today's uber-competitive global environment: knowledge of human cultures and the physical and natural world; intellectual and practical skills; personal and social responsibility; and integrative and applied learning."

more here:

You've heard the story: our modern economy demands more and more students to pursue scientific and technical fields to keep up the pace of growth.Given the exorbitant costs of a college education, students should be discouraged from pursuing frivolous, non-productive fields such as the arts and humanities. And so on...

A recent article from the Economist challenges these myths... from an economic point of view. The author points to facts often overlooked in conventional analyses of productivity. He also reminds us of the enriching experiences and finer pleasures available in advanced societies--experiences and pleasures that are directly tied to the flourishing of the humanities.


What is economic growth for, anyway? It's for expanding our choices and making life better. Is it really so surprising that, as we grow wealthier as a society, more and more of our young people, when the amazing resources of the modern university are put at their disposal, choose to use them learning something satisfying and enriching and not for anything except cherishing the rest of their lives? Is it really so surprising that taxpayers are not in revolt over the existence of poetry professors?

As we grow wealthier as a society, we also devote ever more money and time listening to music, attending performances, reading books, watching film and TV. Somebody has to make this stuff, and I'm certain its full value is not captured in the economists' growth stats. I spent last evening reading a fine Pulitzer prize-winning novel by a graduate of a state-university creative-writing program. I appreciate everything math majors do for us. I really do. But, as far as I know, a math major has never made me cry.

read more:

(thanks to Marc Olivier for the link)

Here is a point frequently made to me by employers: today's students don't know much about the world around them, they don't read the news, they can't connect the dots.

Is this you?

When I ask students on campus about this observation, many agree. They find the news boring or disturbing, they don't have time (but I'm guessing they have time for Facebook), they don't like politics, they don't see the connections to their life, and so on.

The most lofty goal for staying abreast of world events is to become an informed citizen in a democratic society. When you go to vote and you know little about the underlying economic and socio-political forces driving current events, on what basis do you decide?

A more down to earth, but interrelated, reason is that many employers--from government agencies to business--require their hirees to be informed about current events. It's not enough to speak a foreign language, to live abroad or to scan Yahoo headlines; to impress top-shelf employers, you need to be able to demonstrate global awareness and to develop a well-reasoned analysis of issues that matter in the real world. The best way to get started is to regularly consult major newspapers and weeklies (NYT, Wash Post, LA Times, Newsweek, New Republic). At a recent conference on higher education, business people and educators pointed to The Economist as an ideal source of weekly analysis. It's an intelligent, brief and extremely well-written magazine with academic discounts for students. I quote from a CEO of an international company: "If students would just read the Economist every week they'd be ahead of the game."

Even better for BYU students: if you know a foreign language, use your competitive advantage and read major papers and political magazines from your language area.

If you're not reading the news, start today.
Florida Gov. Rick Scott recently argued that Florida needs to refocus attention and tax dollars on math, science and engineering in order to spur job creation. He wants to do this, however, at the expense of liberal arts majors, pointing to anthropology in particular as a frivolous pursuit. Arizona State University president points out the flaws in the argument and underscores the value of the liberal arts, even in the area of job creation.

read here:

Visit for information on the following scholarship opportunities:

Gates-Cambridge Scholarship
 The Gates-Cambridge Scholarship funds graduate school at the University of Cambridge. Deadline: October 1 for some fields, October 15 for others (see website for details). 

Hertz Foundation Fellowship 
Provides fellowships tenable at three dozen of the nation's finest universities for graduate work leading to a Ph.D. in applications of the physical sciences. Deadline: October 30, 2010.

Harry S. Truman Scholarship 
Are you planning on working in civil/public service? The Truman funds graduate school for students who have plans to work in a public service capacity, which covers a very wide range of professions and careers. Deadline: November 2011

Critical Language Scholarship Program
The CLS funds language instruction abroad in Arabic, Persian, Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu, Chinese, Japanese, or Russian. Deadline: November 15, 2011.

National Security Education Program (NSEP) Boren Awards
The NSEP offers undergraduate and graduate awards of $4,000-$30,000 for study abroad in areas that are critical to U.S. security interests: Africa, Asia, Eastern & Central Europe, Middle East, Latin America, and the Caribbean. Deadline: January 31, 2012.

NACE reports that hiring will be increasing around 10%. The document also says that paid interns fare better in landing a job than unpaid interns or those who do no internship. 

AVSO, a large network of volunteers services, provides a variety of opportunities for students wishing to intern in Europe.
See here:

Following one's "passion" in a time of financial crisis and a tough labor market may seem frivolous and even risky. Yet employers and HR directors often tell me that the thing they like about humanities majors is their passion for the subject matter. Even if humanities fields (medieval philosophy, renaissance poetry, 19th-century French art, etc.) have few direct or obvious connections with the world of work, employers know that this underlying passion, usually fuelled by intellectual curiosity, is a rare and highly desirable trait, one that can be harnassed to other  pursuits valued by the marketplace.

Steve Jobs perhaps explains best why passion, or "loving what you do" is so crucial for a long and successful career:

See also this NYT piece on how Jobs channeled his passion for culture and style into product development:

This is the title of a recent article in the NY Daily News. More and more companies are rediscovering the value of a liberal arts education. If you're a student in the College of Humanities, make sure you know precisely what skills are valued and learn how to talk about them in a way that will later be appealing to employers.  

(thanks to Kristen Matthews for the link)
In addition to providing reasons for studying the liberal arts, there is a long list of successful people whose undergraduate degree was in a liberal arts field. See here:
Students in vocational fields (engineering, business, finance, etc.) often think about general education courses, and especially humanities courses, as a check-list of useless hurdles to get past in order to graduate. Tuition-paying parents and career advisors under pressure from higher ups to get students to graduate quickly can often reinforce this view by discouraging students from double majoring or even minoring in "impractical" fields such as literature, philosophy or foreign language.  

Could it be that a purely practical approach to education is all wrong?

If we take Steve Jobs as an example, the answer is clearly "yes". Jobs is "great" not simply because of his technical education but because he was an innovator. He was able to imagine the technological products and services people would desire before they existed. How was he able to do this?

A new book, The Innovator's DNA, studies successful CEO's and cites five common traits of innovative behavior: questioning, experimenting, observing, associating and networking, which they claim must be coupled with a "ceaseless curiosity and willingness to take risks." Breakthrough ideas, they argue, do not come from purely disciplinary or linear thinking, they are fueled by diverse experiences and ways of thinking, i.e., the kind of experiences and thinking that come from intellectual exploration and not from blind focus on one simple goal (studying one discipline, quick graduation, making money, acquiring trophies of success, etc.).

This information on innovative behavior could, of course, easily evolve into a new kind of check-list in students' hands. Jobs himself has a better idea: open your mind... study the liberal arts. Jobs: "The reason that Apple is able to create products like iPad is because we always try to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both."

Read more on Jobs and The Innovator's DNA here:

Read more on Steve Jobs and the Humanities in an earlier H+ post here:

Best Careers 2011

Several of the best careers for 2011 require skills developed in the Humanities. Curatorial work, translation/interpretation, and technical writing jobs are on the rise. This article explains why.

If you're looking for an writing/editing/research internship in DC or NYC, explore this opportunity at Slate. They're looking for students studying culture and/or politics. More here:

A program of United States Department of State, Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) Program offers intensive summer language institutes overseas in thirteen critical need foreign languages. 

Critical Language Scholarship (CLS) institutes provide fully-funded group-based intensive language instruction and structured cultural enrichment experiences for seven to ten weeks for U.S. citizen undergraduate, Master's and Ph.D. students.

              Arabic, Persian: Advanced beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

              Azerbaijani, Bangla/Bengali, Hindi, Indonesian, Korean, Punjabi, Turkish, Urdu: Beginning, intermediate or advanced level;

              Chinese, Japanese, Russian: Intermediate or advanced level.

Countries may include: Azerbaijan, Bangladesh, China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Japan, Jordan, Morocco, Oman, Russia, South Korea, Tajikistan, Tunisia, Turkey, or others where the target languages are spoken.

If this interests you, act soon. More details here:

Consider these two facts:

1. 40% of all Yale students graduate in a humanities/social science discipline. 

2. Among the Stanford Business School's MBA graduates of 2011, 47% majored as an undergraduate in either the humanities or a social science.

What's going on here? What secret about the humanities are these Yale and Stanford students in on? Why would they spend so much money and energy on so-called "useless" disciplines that many people in the media say "lead to nowhere"?

To understand this conundrum and to avoid making an inappropriate career choice based on popular mythology, make sure to understand what you want out of life and to take the proper, evidenced-based steps to get there. You might be surprised to discover that you can follow your passion and make a good living. 

Read more:

*Thanks to Ed Cutler for the link.

Evidence keeps mounting that humanities students provide innovative perspectives to businesses and tech fields. A few days ago, Stanford News ran a story about Silicon Valley's desire to hire humanities students. Here we see the giant of the industry leading the way...

Thanks to Jarom McDonald for the link.
You don't necessarily need German to intern here. Either French or English--the official languages of the UN--would be sufficient. Details here:

CNN recently ran a story by Michael Roth on why study of the Liberal Arts is crucial for the future of our nation. Here is an excerpt:

"In recent years university leaders in Asia, the Mideast and even Europe have sought to organize curricula more like those of our liberal art schools. How, they want to know, can we combine rigorous expectations of learning with the development of critical thinking and creativity that are the hallmarks of the best American colleges?

But in our own land we are running away from the promise of liberal education. We are frightened by economic competition, and many seem to have lost confidence in our ability to draw from the resources of a broadly based education. Instead, they hope that technical training or professional expertise on their own will somehow invigorate our culture and society."

more here:

U.S. News reports that due to the global economy careers in translation will be taking off in the near future.

Excerpt from article:
"Employment of interpreters and translators is projected to increase 22 percent between 2008 and 2018, much faster than the average for all occupations, according to the Labor Department. Demand is driven by an increasingly global economy, as well as an increasingly large population of non-English speakers in the United States."

While searching for internships for BYU students, I have discovered a great interest in Portuguese, both by global business and international organizations. The OECD (one of the best internships in the world), for example, said it would love to take interns with a knowledge of Brazil and Portuguese. This is due to the size and dynamism of the Brazilian economy, but also because of its classification as one of rapidly emerging "BRICS" (Brazil, Russia, India, China, South Africa) economies. Evidently there is a shortage of Americans who speak fluent Portuguese--why not choose this option over the more commonly taught languages? See what this blogger has to say about Brazil: "For young Americans wondering what country and language they can study that will give them an edge in life, let me suggest Brazil and Portuguese.

That's partly because of Brazil's enormous potential - and it's also because Brazil is an undervalued stock in the US academy. Most US "Latin Americanists" concentrate on Spanish and Spanish America. There are good reasons for that, but it leads to a distorted US picture of the hemisphere. Except for Mexico and a couple of others, the Spanish speaking countries of the hemisphere are minnows: Brazil is a whale. One single Brazilian state alone, Sao Paulo, has a GDP bigger than any Spanish republic except for Mexico.  

Becoming fluent in Portuguese and investing time in getting to know Brazil is likely to pay off much, much better for young Americans than the study of Spanish. Let your classmates study Spanish and spend their summers in Nicaragua; learn Portuguese, go to Brazil, and learn what the future looks like."

Like many business educators around the world, the dean of Business at the University of Madrid is noticing a narrowness in business education that he thinks might be remedied with more intense study of art and literature. 

Excerpts from ad:

The Chronicle of Higher Education offers three internship sessions each year: winter/spring, summer, and fall.

The paper is currently seeking interns for the fall 2011 session, which will begin in September. The Chronicle is an Equal Opportunity Employer committed to maintaining a diverse work force.

The internships are full-time in our Washington, D.C., office and will last through December. In addition to a $500 weekly stipend, academic credit can often be arranged.

Three interns will be hired; we are looking for both undergraduates and recent graduates.

All the interns will have the same primary responsibilities: reporting and writing daily news articles forThe Chronicle's Web site (which usually appear subsequently in print), writing news articles for other sections of the newspaper, and doing research for special projects. There is very little grunt work. Interns who prove themselves as reporters and writers are often asked to write full-length features.

The Chronicle places a premium on reporting that is accurate and writing that shines. All writing, including that done by staff reporters, is carefully edited. Interns typically leave with a set of strong, varied clips.

Requirements: Experience writing for publication, either at a student newspaper or a professional publication, is required. Candidates with previous internships and deadline-reporting experience are preferred. Applications must be received by 4 p.m. on Friday, June 3, 2011. Applications that are late, e-mailed, or faxed will not be considered.

Details here:

Excerpts from Stanford News

Entrepreneurs said that fast-growing start-up companies need people with a wide range of skills, especially those who can help companies extend their global reach, connect with consumers and understand different cultures.

Humanities students show passion and dedication, said Vivek Ranadivé, chief executive officer of the software company TIBCO. Large companies aren't concerned with the specific knowledge humanities PhDs gained while writing a dissertation, said June Cohen, executive producer at TED Media. More important are the skills graduates have acquired, such as stamina and listening.

Discussion at the event initially focused on perceived differences between academia, the pursuit of knowledge for intellectual pleasure and companies' need for growth and product development.

Entrepreneurs in the first panel discussion tried to stress the need for humanities students to bring innovative ways of thinking to a company. During the second discussion, the conversation moved toward finding common ground. "Technology is becoming more humanist and at the same time the humanities are becoming more technical," said Bob Tinker, president and CEO of MobilIron, a software company based in Mountain View.

From today's NYT:

"[My daughter] Caitlin is graduating from a liberal arts college in Pennsylvania next month, and I emailed her today to ask which was harder during the past four years -- her business classes or her Spanish courses. Her reply was 'Spanish hands down.'"

But is Spanish (or another liberal arts major) a useful choice? The author continues:

"When PayScale conducted its latest annual survey of starting and mid-career salaries for college grads in dozens of college majors, business came in as the 60th best-paying college degree. It fared worse than such supposedly impractical degrees as history, political science and philosophy."

More here:

Read this convincing testimony of the value of a liberal arts education by Maria Covey Cole:

A co-sponsored NYT / Chronicle of Higher Ed article describes business majors as being among the least engaged and least curious students on campus. Humanities majors, on the contrary, came out near the top in terms of intellectual curiosity and academic gain: 

"Business majors spend less time preparing for class than do students in any other broad field, according to the most recent National Survey of Student Engagement: nearly half of seniors majoring in business say they spend fewer than 11 hours a week studying outside class. In their new book "Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses," the sociologists Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa report that business majors had the weakest gains during the first two years of college on a national test of writing and reasoning skills. And when business students take the GMAT, the entry examination for M.B.A. programs, they score lower than students in every other major."

"Business programs also attract more than their share of students who approach college in purely instrumental terms, as a plausible path to a job, not out of curiosity about, say, Ronald Coase's theory of the firm."

"At the beginning of freshman year and end of sophomore year, students in the study took the Collegiate Learning Assessment, a national essay test that assesses students' writing and reasoning skills. During those first two years of college, business students' scores improved less than any other group's. Communication, education and social-work majors had slightly better gains; humanities, social science, and science and engineering students saw much stronger improvement."

Could this explain why companies have recently turned to humanities and liberal arts majors during hiring season? Is this why business schools around the country have begun to retool their programs by infusing more humanities learning?

This is the title of an article published last week by Tony Golsby-Smith in the Harvard Business Review blog. Golsby-Smith, the founder and CEO of Second Road, a successful business design and transformation firm in Australia, observes that humanities majors are excellent problem solvers and leaders. Companies, in general, are not lacking in people with great technical training in business, computer science, accounting and so forth, but such training is often deficient for envisioning which directions to go to get ahead of the competition. Employees steeped in the humanities or liberal arts, on the other hand, excel in innovation and creative thinking. How can this be? 

Golsby-Smith: "Business leaders around the world have told me that they despair of finding people who can help them solve wicked problems -- or even get their heads around them. It's not that firms don't have smart people working with them. There are plenty of MBAs and even Ph.Ds in economics, chemistry, or computer science, in the corporate ranks. Intellectual wattage is not lacking. It's the right intellectual wattage that's hard to find. They simply don't have enough people with the right backgrounds.

He continues: "This is because our educational systems focus on teaching science and business students to control, predict, verify, guarantee, and test data. It doesn't teach how to navigate "what if" questions or unknown futures. As Amos Shapira, the CEO of Cellcom, the leading cell phone provider in Israel, put it: 'The knowledge I use as CEO can be acquired in two weeks...The main thing a student needs to be taught is how to study and analyze things (including) history and philosophy.'"

According to Golsby-Smith, people trained in the humanities can more easily imagine innovative solutions to problems because they "have learned to play with big concepts, and to apply new ways of thinking to difficult problems that can't be analyzed in conventional ways." Unlike the study of purely vocational and technical fields, the study of great art and literature opens minds to big questions; it develops a "big picture" mentality; and it, above all, inspires curiosity. And it is precisely these mental skills and characteristics that are required for leadership in our rapidly changing and unpredictable world. 

In an article in the New Republic (December 13, 2010), John McWhorter argues for dramatic changes to university language study while brushing aside concerns over the recent closures of the French, German and Italian departments around the country. The shuttering of these units is merely a sign of the times, affirms McWhorter, as the new global economy displaces Europe's--and especially France's--former cultural centrality. In tough budgetary times, strategic choices must be made. And the obvious choice, according to McWhorter, is Chinese or Arabic.


Does anybody disagree that Chinese and Arabic are crucially important languages? The question is: why does McWhorter pit them in a zero-sum game with German or French? There may be good arguments to do so, but McWhorter does not make them. His reasoning goes like this: Chinese is "happening" while French is merely a residual marker of class distinction; Chinese is useful for business whereas French is good for the "educated person [who] is supposed to be able to at least fake a conversation in French," Nietzsche and Stendhal are, indeed, interesting, but why learn German or French when such texts are already available in English translation?


For McWhorter, the idea that an "educated" person learns French or German is a relic of the past. Things could have been different, and, in fact, would be different, if we could choose all over again: "I [...] have a deep-seated sense that the driver's seat in a car should be on the left side. It's all I've known, but hardly the choice all humans would make if designing a car from scratch with no cultural preconceptions."


It's hard to tell if this is an argument or a provocation. Is comparing choice of language study to car design a useful analogy? First of all, we're not talking about all humans deciding on one language; nor are we talking about a parallel world where language choice is divorced from historical and cultural experience. We're talking about American language learners who have long considered themselves historically and culturally tied to Europe and who want to strengthen these ties via language study. The original choice to study French and German (and Italian and Latin, etc.) was thus not an arbitrary and purely technical decision. It was one animated by a desire to participate in the cultural transmission Europe's humanistic traditions that define us. Is it possible to imagine the serious study of language outside of a "cultural preconception"? Isn't the very idea of language transmission tied to cultural transmission?


The answer is, of course, 'yes'--which explains why McWhorter doesn't really argue his point against European languages; he relies on the observations of a fictional "Martian" to make it for him: "A Martian would be baffled as to why anyone would think of French, German or Italian as more important for young Americans to learn than Chinese." Or he relies on the fiction of pure chance: "If the dice were rolled again, [Europe] might not even be considered a continent."


The idea here is clear: Europe is no longer important, and our attachment to European languages has outlasted its utility. Linguistic "importance" should now be based on strategic importance and economic benefit. 

However, even if we concede this last point, McWhorter's Martian would be mistaken: the European Union is by far the US's largest trading partner, and both Germany and France figure in the top 10. Canada, our closest neighbor and second largest trading partner, is also partially francophone. And in terms of strategic importance, Europe, Canada and US are all members of NATO, struggling to share a historical destiny. It's unclear, given these facts, why we should so quickly turn our backs on European language and culture. Can't we admit that there's more at stake here than being able to "fake a conversation"?

The real argument for defending the study of European languages in American universities, however, is neither utilitarian nor strategic. It is the argument that McWhorter wants to deny: that European languages link us to the liberal arts or humanistic heritage out of which American political and cultural traditions emerged. In order to maintain these fragile traditions in an increasingly hostile economic climate, it is imperative that we avoid caving into purely market or strategic justifications for curricular decisions. Most college students already view their college experience as purely instrumental; it is our job to help as many students as we can see beyond this limited point of view.


Mark Bauerlein reprinted in the Chronicle of Higher Ed this response to his recent contribution to the Jobs vs. Gates debate in the NYT :

"Professor Bauerlein:

"Having retired after 36 years as an engineer/physicist, I can look
back and honestly say that the liberal-arts courses I took amplified
my effectiveness as an engineer.  They could be described as what the
military would call 'force multipliers,' always present in my best
work and often most responsible for my promotions along the way.

"My promotions were more related to my ability to write and give good
presentations than to the technical ingenuity of my work.  Often,
some very ingenious output resulted in a company patent but just
didn't create any excitement, while on other occasions I managed to
sell some rather pedestrian work to roars of approval.

"Some studies of philosophy helped me to understand what it means to
know something and to see logical holes in an argument.  My exposure
to psychology and sociology made me more sensitive to ingrained
paradigms that I could not change and so needed to navigate, like so
many hidden reefs.

"I think my finest university teacher was a historian named Milton
Halliday.  He was awakening a classroom of physical science and
engineering majors to the history of western philosophy.  That
course, and the inspiration of Halliday, motivated in me a lifetime
of study outside of my career."

These are just the kind of testimonials that the humanities need in discussions of funding, general education requirements, curricular changes, and career readiness.  From what I've seen and heard, humanities professors haven't made the case.  Their defenses of the humanities can't overcome the simple dollar calculations.

The dean's option is irresistible: Why spend $80,000 on one associate professor of English at a 2-2 load when I can pay two adjuncts $48,000 to teach 16 (!) courses?

English professors struggle to answer that question in an effective, persuasive way.  If we had more engineers and scientists putting administrators on the spot, the adjunct trend would, at the least, slow down.  Right now, the silence of people whose research brings in big federal dollars isn't benign or neutral.  It's an endorsement of the steady marginalization of the humanities on campus.

I believe most scientists and engineers believe in the essential role of the humanities in higher education, but they don't know how much they have declined in prestige and persuasion.  It would be all to the good if more cross-the-quad communication took place.

Evidence is growing, says the Wall Street Journal, that MBA students lack effective communication skills. The article cites a number of businesses that are unhappy with the paltry writing abilities of recent graduates. What it does not say is that learning how to write often comes from reading great literature: it's impossible to know what good writing looks like if your reading is limited to college textbooks and commercial schlock. This article confirms what many said in the NYT debate: that the humanities are more crucial than ever to succeeding in the modern marketplace. Read here:

The New York Times invited experts to debate the differences between Bill Gates's and Steve Jobs's approach to education. Gates prefers investing in fields that lead to employment, Jobs wants to focus on creativity and innovation, which depend on a deep familiarity with the liberal arts. Nearly all of the participants, even those on the side of science and technology, argue that liberal arts skills (writing, critical thinking, communication, socio-historical awareness) are crucial, especially for long-term career success. Check out the debate here:

A lot of humanities students--especially students of philosophy and English--end up going to law school. This is a great choice for many students; for others it is a default decision based on the vague idea that they will make a lot of money and that life will take care of itself. When a family member or neighbor asks you: "Why are you studying the humanities?" it is very easy to respond "I'm going to law school" in order to avoid the quizzical stares and the ambiguity of pursuing some other--and perhaps even more interesting--career path. If law school is on your radar screen, and for the wrong reasons, it may be useful to consider other options, especially now that the law school bubble may have burst. Read more here: For ideas on how to bridge the gap between a humanities degree and other exciting career choices, check this post on Sheila Curran's book Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grads:

From Katherine in PA
March 17th, 2011 11:53 am Twenty-five years ago, the huge financial institution where I worked in NYC wanted to find out if the premium it paid to hire MBAs was worth it. Did they really perform better? Was it worth the cost? Our PhD research team decided to find out. They carefully identified and studied the top performers who were five years into their careers across our far-flung operations. The results? MBAs did NO better than students with only a bachelor's degree. Grade point average made NO difference. Education institution made NO difference (the kids from CCNY did just as well as the ones from Harvard). Prior work experience made NO difference. In our study the ONLY predictor of success was an undergraduate liberal arts degree. I think of that whenever I hear about a middle-class kid who wants to go into huge debt to finance an Ivy League education. Yes, the contacts are fabulous. But if you have a fire in your belly, it make no difference where you go to school. Amen.

It would be interesting to see an updated version of this study to see if the results are similar.
David Brooks makes the argument that the Enlightenment view of human nature has taken scientists and government policymakers down a number of blind alleys by focusing on human rationality and ignoring or downgrading the role of moral sentiments in animating human behavior. He is describing, in fact, what humanists and professors of great literature have always known: that by bracketing out the "unmeasurable" elements of human thought and behavior science misses, or even willfully ignores, the most interesting and fundamental dimensions of humanity. This moral "blindness" of rationalism is, in fact, the stuff of tragedy.

Find info here for this great opportunity:

A recent article in MSN Careers provides a fresh report on the personal qualities most highly valued by companies and hiring managers. Some of these qualities are intrinsic to a person's nature or character, many can be cultivated and developed. 

Declared Humanities students deep into their coursework qualify for internship funding on a competitive basis: $500 for local (e.g., SLC), $1000 national and $2000 international.

See Dave Waddell in the Humanities Advising Center or your departmental internship coordinator for more information.

Funding is also available for Washington Seminar and European Governance (Brussels Seminar, Scottish Parliament, OECD, etc.) internships.

The U.S. Department of State's 2011 Fall Student Internship Program has openings.

Click here (, and click on Student Internships under Undergraduate or Graduate/Post-Graduate) for more information, and to start the Gateway to State online application process via USAJobs.

Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is March 01, 2011.

You must be a U.S. Citizen and a student (a full- or part-time continuing college or university junior, or graduate student - including graduating seniors intending to go on to graduate school) to be eligible. Please read the program description and vacancy announcement for more information and all qualification requirements.

We appreciate your interest in a career with the U.S. Department of State.

U.S. citizenship is required. An equal opportunity employer.

Financial support for student research in the humanities.

Two fellowships--one for undergraduate students and one for graduate students--are offered in the spring to support student research in the humanities.  The maximum student fellowship award in $500. Fellowship funds may be used to   pay the costs of equipment, supplies, software, technical support, or travel to do research or to report on the results of research at a professional conference. Contact Maria Torres 801-359-9670 x105.

Application deadline: March 1


The internship at the Visual Arts department of the French Cultural Services offers the opportunity to work on interdisciplinary visual arts contemporary projects, in collaboration with both America and French institutions and galleries.

Position is available immediately
3, 6 or 9 months
Internship unpaid



- Mostly participate in the follow-up and process of the French-American grant program for contemporary art, along with the curatorial program - - by helping in processing applications for the grant deadlines before they are submitted to a selection committee of professionals.

- Keep the weekly art events calendar up-to-date

- Write newsletters or blasts if needed


- Detail-orientated and ability to multi-task

- Good communication skills (the work requires substantial 
communication, written and otherwise) 
- Computer proficiency

- Interest in French and Francophone art in general

- French Language a plus

- Internships are non-paid positions, although school credit can be arranged. Candidates are required to commit to a minimum of 10 weeks for a minimum of 20 hours per week (maximum duration: 6 months).

Please send a cover letter, resume and short writing sample as well as contact information for two references by e-mail with the subject line "French Embassy 2010 Internship" and

All documents should be sent in Word or PDF file format.

Incomplete applications will not be considered.

Due to the large volume of applications we receive, we are only able to contact those candidates selected for an interview.

download pdf

The deadline has passed for 2011, but keep this program in mind for future reference. Details here:


"For the United States to get to where it needs to be will require a national commitment to strengthening America's foreign language proficiency," Director Panetta said. "A significant cultural change needs to occur. And that requires a transformation in attitude from everyone involved: individuals, government, schools and universities, and the private sector."

He urged schools and universities to reach beyond reading, writing, and arithmetic to "the fourth R": the reality of the world we live in. Language skills are vital to success in an interconnected world, he said, and they are fundamental to US competitiveness and security.

"Language is the window through which we come to know other peoples and cultures," Director Panetta said. "Mastery of a second language allows you to capture the nuances that are essential to true understanding...This is not about learning something that is helpful or simply nice to have. It is crucial to CIA's mission."

Full text here:

For many employers what counts are the skills your derive from your university and internships experiences, not the major. Before you spend a lot of time pondering the advantages and disadvantages of the majors you are considering, you should read this:

In order to compete with American universities in critical thinking, innovation and other necessary skills for a modern economy, the Chinese are opening their universities up to the liberal arts. 

global-header-logo.gifCheck my guest post in the Chronicle of Higher Education on the crisis in the humanities where I analyze the paradoxes and traps in which we currently find ourselves.

This is the most eloquent and convincing case for the study of the humanities I've read. Although the humanities have been displaced from their former role of prominence, Bloch reminds us that the wisdom, insights and applications they provide will never become obsolete.

One notices it might have been beneficial had more of the players in our irrational markets read their Homer, Dante, Dickens, or Balzac. There are no guarantees, of course, but greed and appetite have been exposed in literature and moral philosophy since the ancient Greeks. Nor has modern thought neglected this important subject. More education via Locke, Rousseau, Hobbes, or John Stuart Mill, or a serious course of Gibbon, Marx, or Tocqueville, could have helped some particular individuals and their institutions gain some purchase upon the consequences--or at least the feasibility--of their actions. It is doubtful whether the greediest would have taken the time to read great works of literature, philosophy, or history, but that is another question. For they might have learned from the philosophers about our obligations to each other or the necessity for external regulation of limitless human appetite. From the litany of lost fortunes and illusions to be found in fiction, they might have discovered the tools necessary for assessing one's own motivations and character along with the motivations and character of others. From historians, they might have recognized the unlikely chances of beating certain historical cycles and odds.

Read Joshua Landy's (Prof, Stanford French Dept.) defense of literary study... Or watch the video:

smartmoves.jpgAs you know, it's tough finding a job at the moment. But not impossible. If you're still in school, give yourself a leg up on the competition by planning ahead and developing a strategy. 

The book Smart Moves for Liberal Arts Grad by Sheila Curran is probably the best book out there for helping you proceed. It provides a number of case scenarios of liberal arts majors who landed in great jobs. The key for all of them was patience and a series of increasingly interesting internship experiences.

Don't put your head in the sand and wait till it's too late. Start planning now.

Internships are available fall, spring and summer for students with these skills: 

Ideally, the intern should have excellent communications skills and be able to proofread. Computer skills are necessary and a working knowledge of Microsoft Office is highly desirable. Knowledge of HTML and Web site production is also helpful. We are looking for independent self-starters who are also able to work with a small team in a variety of tasks.
The president of Smith College is quoted in the Korean Tribune:

"Shunning the humanities in favor of more specialized fields of study is very short sighted, according to the president of a leading women's liberal arts college in the United States.

A global perspective is needed to succeed in the 21st century and the humanities is essential to attaining a global perspective," said Carol Christ, president of Smith College, in an interview with The Korea Herald on Thursday. "The world today requires globally educated executives who understand another culture," she said.

Based on a recent poll by Hart Research Associates, employers say that colleges and universities should develop learning outcomes that emphasize these skills and experiences:

89%  The ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing
81%  Critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills
79%  The ability to apply knowledge and skill to real-world settings through internships and other experience
75%  The ability to analyze and solve complex problems
75%  The ability to connect choices and actions to ethical decisions
71%  Teamwork skills
70%  The ability to be creative
68%  The ability to locate, organize and evaluate information from multiple sources
67%  The ability to understand the global context of situations and decisions
45%  Proficiency in a foreign language

Robin Beck, an IT Executive at the University of Pennsylvania has had a successful career at Penn and formerly at General Electric. When asked what she would study if she were to go back to college today, she states:

"Exactly what I did before: English and Humanities. The ability to take complex ideas and make them understandable to a wide audience is a skill I learned as an undergraduate, as well as to express ideas in writing and to think creatively."

See the magazine Computerworld, Oct. 25, 2010, p. 10.

(thanks to Ray Clifford for sharing this)
University College London is doing what several business schools have chosen to do in the wake of the economic downturn: infuse their business program with humanities study. They find that the humanities can help with communication, writing, critical thinking, leadership and innovation. But the benefits work both ways: humanities students stand to gain from learning business culture and skills.


Those organizations which can adapt quickly and productively will survive short-term economic fluctuations and extend success into the long-term, but such organizational flexibility can require breaking away from conventional outlooks. The need for fundamental change in business has undoubtedly received added impetus from the recent global economic crisis,which has alerted those within the commercial community to the need for innovative approaches to leadership and strategy and for an understanding of how human qualities play a key role in commercial environments. In turn, humanities experts and the universities at which they teach only stand to gain from engaging with their social and entrepreneurial environments, and exploring the relations between their research practice with the world of business. 

We live in an extremely materialistic, entitled and increasingly self-centered world. Americans often seem too willing to short-circuit their education and the proper development of their minds, sensibilities and morals because they see life simply as a race to the money and to personal glory. 

The author of this article reminds us that the liberal arts should play a central role in the academic experience in order to gain a broad perspective on humanity, a sense of humility, and perhaps the wisdom to live a rich and meaningful life in the pursuit of good.


Yet the secret to the good life, the core value that is at the core of our university's mission, I tell them, "is to help you realize, deep in your hearts, that it is not all about you. This experience is all about you realizing that it's not all about you.

The Quality education is the nurturing and development of curiosity, creativity, critical thinking, problem-solving, wisdom, ethical sensibility, and judgment. Quality education mediates between what's in the books and what's on the streets, between cosmic theory and common sense. Quality education instills the humility and grace to know that you don't know it all.

More than ever, the world needs students educated in the liberal tradition. A liberal education helps the student to transcend generations. As T.S. Eliot wrote: "It is in fact part of the function of education to help us escape, not from our time -- for we are bound by that -- but from the intellectual and emotional limitations of our time."

A liberal education helps the student navigate a world of religious, political, and cultural diversity, a world that seems to spin ever faster and faster on its axis, accelerated by changes in science and technology that seem to move at the speed of light.

The "liberal" in liberal education is not about politics, but rather mind and soul, a broad-based exposure to a multiplicity of academic disciplines, an emphasis on open-minded critical inquiry and creative problem-solving, an understanding that there is nobility in approaching education not as the filling of a résumé but the fulfilling of life.

More here:

Many Liberal Arts majors know their degree is valuable. They just don't know how to "understand, articulate, and apply" it in the career prep process. From writing resumes and cover letters, to interviewing and developing additional skills, the following article has some good pointers on applying your liberal arts background to the job-prep process. Read more...
Check out my article in the BYU Humanities Magazine. It synthesizes many of the points made in the articles collected here. Feel free to circulate it. Utilitarian Value.pdf

You've heard of Teach for America? How about Teach Away? Check this website for teaching positions all over the world:

It's no secret: graduating seniors are facing one of the toughest job markets in decades. Overall hiring plunged dramatically during 2009/10, with American companies reducing their hiring targets by 35-40%.  

What does this mean for humanities students?  It is not as bleak as it might appear. 

The Michigan State report also claims that employers want above all flexibility. "They seek candidates across all majors who can slide into a number of positions as needed or can adapt quickly to changing conditions. Their focus is on candidates with a mix of technical aptitude and essential soft skills."

It goes on:

"Over 600 companies indicated that they would consider any graduate for a position; at 33% of respondents, this figure is at a historic high. These companies will be hiring approximately 26 individuals per company, an increase of 6%.

See the entire report here:

The Humanities and Medicine Program at the Mount Sinai medical school in New York accepts about 35 undergraduates a year from humanities and social science disciplines--even if they have never taken any 'hard' science courses! 

The school has found that such students are able to catch up on the science but that they add this much desired dimension: a sense of mission, a broad humanistic vision and the interpersonal skills to become better healers. 

What this says to me is that a humanities major who engages in Humanities+ and who does a minor in a scientific discipline or who completes the prerequisites for medical school probably has an equal or better chance of getting into an excellent medical school than the straight-on science major or 'tech geek'. 

What it also suggests is that the traditional 'science-only' majors who wish to become doctors could improve their chances with top schools (and of becoming better healers) by taking rigorous coursework in the humanities disciplines--a strategy that we in our College are calling +Humanities. 

Read more in today's NYT:

Accepting applications for the 2010 Diplomacy Fellows Program
U.S. Department of State <>
Add to Contacts

The State Dept is accepting applications for the 2010 Diplomacy Fellows Program.

Click here ( for more information, and to start the application process. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is July 31, 2010.

General Qualifications for the DFP Program:

  1. You must be a U.S. citizen.
  2. You must be at least 20 and not more than 59 at the time of application.
  3. You must be available for worldwide assignment.
  4. You may not have been separated from the Foreign Service under certain sections of the Foreign Service Act.
  5. You must have participated in one of the 9 eligible Fellowship programs (please (click here to view the list) and you must have successfully completed all program requirements and received your master's degree within 5 years of the vacancy announcement closing date.

Please read the entire vacancy announcement for details about qualifications, evaluations and requirements.

We appreciate your interest in a career with the U.S. Department of State.


Your resume should answer one key question.

The vast majority of resumes I see read like a series of job descriptions, listing duties and responsibilities at each position the job applicant has held. But resumes that stand out do something very different. For each position, they answer the question: What did you accomplish in this job that someone else wouldn't have?

New grads need work experience.

I receive all too many resumes from recent grads who have literally no work experience: nothing, not internships, not temp jobs, nothing at all. Find a way to get actual work experience before you leave school. Do internships every semester you are able, so that you have experience on your resume. Paid, unpaid, whatever it takes. If a part-time job of a few hours a week is all you have time for outside of your classes, that's fine. Do that. No one will hire you? Find work experience as a volunteer--that counts too.

See more here:

Many recent posts have discussed how business leaders are noticing a gaping lack in the basic critical thinking and leadership skills of recent graduates.They're saying that technical know-how is necessary, but so is a grounding in the liberal arts traditions. Many prestigious schools are encouraging their students to return to those traditions.

The NYT recently featured a story about how in the 1950's the CEO of Bell Telephone helped set up a program to train his technicians in humanistic study. A sociologist of the time explains why: 

 "A well-trained man knows how to answer questions, they reasoned; an educated man knows what questions are worth asking." Bell, then one of the largest industrial concerns in the country, needed more employees capable of guiding the company rather than simply following instructions or responding to obvious crises.

In 1952, Gillen took the problem to the University of Pennsylvania, where he was a trustee. Together with representatives of the university, Bell set up a program called the Institute of Humanistic Studies for Executives. More than simply training its young executives to do a particular job, the institute would give them, in a 10-month immersion program on the Penn campus, what amounted to a complete liberal arts education. There were lectures and seminars led by scholars from Penn and other colleges in the area -- 550 hours of course work in total, and more reading, Baltzell reported, than the average graduate student was asked to do in a similar time frame.

Read more:

Check this list of companies hiring for entry-level positions. Several of them will hire humanities majors, but you'll still most likely need an internship to be taken seriously:

Conservative columnist David Brooks argues for the necessity of studying the humanities for understanding the vicissitudes and seeming irrationality of human behavior. Great books (novels, plays, philosophical treatises) explore "emotional veins" of human existence in ways that other "scientific" disciplines have difficulty explaining. He cites several recent examples of world-historical events that cannot be fully accounted for by conventional science, but that seem fairly predictable to those deeply familiar with the humanities. Read more here: 


For starters, research indicates that effective language instruction must be culturally grounded. Acquiring a language involves learning the culture or cultures intimately associated with it. Although business students, for example, can operate in English in a large number of countries, a deeper understanding of the cultures there would enhance their performance as employees or entrepreneurs. Interactions and negotiations in English may be possible, but there is nothing like knowing the local language to become aware of the nuances and the sensitivities involved in everyday life or work situations.

We also know from research and experience that acquiring another language makes students better problem solvers, unleashing their ability to identify problems, enriching the ways in which they search and process information, and making them aware of issues and perspectives that they would otherwise ignore. I have often observed that students with exposure to two or more languages and cultures are more creative in their thinking, especially when it comes to tackling complex problems that do not have clear solutions.

Learners of languages, by exposing themselves to other cultures and institutional arrangements, are more likely to see differences of opinion and conflicts by approaching a problem from perspectives that incorporate the values and norms of others as well as their own. Knowledge of other languages also fosters tolerance and mutual understanding. Language learning is thus much more than becoming operational in an environment different than one's own. It is a powerful way of appreciating and respecting the diversity of the world.

More here:

In spite of some bad news (for example, announcing the closure of some classics and philosophy departments around the US), this article exposes the importance of the humanities to the marketplace. The key, the author argues toward the end of the piece, is to know what skills are valued, develop them to their fullest, and then work on bridging these skills to employment through various Humanities+ strategies (minors, internships, career workshops, etc.) that our college advisement center is working on.

Here's an excerpt:
"There's evidence, though, that employers also don't want students specializing too soon. The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently asked employers who hire at least 25 percent of their workforce from two- or four-year colleges what they want institutions to teach. The answers did not suggest a narrow focus. Instead, 89 percent said they wanted more emphasis on "the ability to effectively communicate orally and in writing," 81 percent asked for better "critical thinking and analytical reasoning skills" and 70 percent were looking for "the ability to innovate and be creative."

Want to engage in humanitarian work? Here are several possibilities to consider:

The 2011 Spring Student Internship Program is now accepting applications.

Click here ( for more information and to start the online application process. Please note that the deadline to submit completed applications is July 01, 2010. You must be a U.S. Citizen and a student (a full- or part-time continuing college or university junior, or graduate student - including graduating seniors intending to go on to graduate school) to be eligible. Please read the program description and vacancy announcement for more information.

Here's an excerpt from an excellent article on the decline of leadership skills in American institutions by William Deresiewicz. It's from a graduation lecture given at Westpoint and reprinted in the current volume of The American Scholar:

"We have a crisis of leadership in America because our overwhelming power and wealth, earned under earlier generations of leaders, made us complacent, and for too long we have been training leaders who only know how to keep the routine going. Who can answer questions, but don't know how to ask them. Who can fulfill goals, but don't know how to set them. Who think about how to get things done, but not whether they're worth doing in the first place. What we have now are the greatest technocrats the world has ever seen, people who have been trained to be incredibly good at one specific thing, but who have no interest in anything beyond their area of expertise. What we don't have are leaders.

What we don't have, in other words, are thinkers. People who can think for themselves. People who can formulate a new direction: for the country, for a corporation or a college, for the Army--a new way of doing things, a new way of looking at things. People, in other words, with vision."

Deresiewicz ties this lack of thinking and vision to the imagination- and attention-detroying power of modern technologies. Today's youth are simply too distracted by cell phones, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, etc. to be able to sit down and concentrate. As an antidote, he recommends the deep and slow reading of great books...old books--the kind we study we in the Humanities:

"So why is reading books any better than reading tweets or wall posts? Well, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes, you need to put down your book, if only to think about what you're reading, what you think about what you're reading. But a book has two advantages over a tweet. First, the person who wrote it thought about it a lot more carefully. The book is the result of his solitude, his attempt to think for himself.

Second, most books are old. This is not a disadvantage: this is precisely what makes them valuable. They stand against the conventional wisdom of today simply because they're notfrom today. Even if they merely reflect the conventional wisdom of their own day, they say something different from what you hear all the time. But the great books, the ones you find on a syllabus, the ones people have continued to read, don't reflect the conventional wisdom of their day. They say things that have the permanent power to disrupt our habits of thought. They were revolutionary in their own time, and they are still revolutionary today. And when I say "revolutionary," I am deliberately evoking the American Revolution, because it was a result of precisely this kind of independent thinking. Without solitude--the solitude of Adams and Jefferson and Hamilton and Madison and Thomas Paine--there would be no America.

Read more:

The market values the liberal arts. It's just that you need to know how to translate your skills into ways that the market will readily understand them. More:

Many of the top execs at Disney started at the bottom and worked their way up. An internship is an excellent way to get work experience, understand a company's culture and learn about opportunities. Check the Disney careers website for internship possibilities suitable for you:

The evidence is crystal clear: the internship is now expected by employers and is the single most important key to bridging a university degree to work.  More here:
Newsweek makes a convincing case for Humanities+ and + Humanities. See here:

Job Fair Today at UVU

Thumbnail image for commjobfairphotoedit.png
Jobfair April 14, from 10am - 4 pm at the UVU Events Center
A new article underscores the fact that studying foreign language is not enough: language learners need also to have a deep understanding of the social, historical and cultural contexts of peoples in order to speak competently.

Professor Engerman of Brandeis U. says: "Area-studies programs have given way to 'international' or 'global studies' programs that too often stress transnational connections at the expense of knowing much about any one particular area or language."

Madeline K. Spring, director of Arizona State University's Chinese Language Flagship Partner Program, says "there's absolutely no way to teach language without teaching culture."

Internship and Employment Opportunities at the Springville Museum of Art

Now accepting Intern Applications for Spring/Summer, Fall & Winter 2010

Gain valuable job experience in a dynamic and beautiful setting! Internships are offered on a rotating basis by academic semester and open to professionally directed students and graduates. Experience available in:

Curatorial, Education, Operations, Fundraising & Donor Cultivation, Communications & Marketing, Graphic Design, Event Management, and more! We have a large variety of projects just waiting for an intern with the right skill set. 

Internships are unpaid, but offer great exposure to a wide variety of practical experiences in non-profit museum work. Academic credit is available Internship requirements: Commit to 12 week internship with a minimum of 6 hours/week

To apply: Submit letter of intent, resume, and three professional references

Contact: Natalie Petersen, Associate Director
(801) 489-2727

More information about SMA internships

Content Writer - Intern If you are looking to gain internship experience at a company with an environment that most people only dream about, you've found it! OrangeSoda, an online marketing company focused on helping small and medium sized businesses, is looking to fill a free-lance Content Writers to work as interns. We are looking for creative minds, with excellent writing and grammar skills, to produce professional and creative copy for us. The person in this position will be paid per article written, will work 15-20 hours per week, and can work from home. Students should have their own laptop/PC to work from.
Job Description: * Write informational articles on a varying degree of subjects * Write online business profiles for local-based businesses * Create content for blogs, partner landing pages, various websites, newsletters, and so forth * Report directly to the Director of Content (don't worry, he's a nice guy)
Job Requirements: * An ability to write professional copy using correct grammar and spelling * An ability to meet writing deadlines * A basic understanding of HTML is helpful, but not required * An understanding of SEO, how search engines work, and online marketing in general * Ability to follow instructions and take professional criticism on writing in order to meet desired needs Melissa Wood HR Specialist T 801.610.2500 x.2303 F 801.610.2501<><>

More and more students are competing for internships. Read here on how to get a leg up on the competition:

Well-connected BYU alums are sponsoring a mentoring and career strategies event in Washington DC on May 6th and 7th. BYU students, including Humanities students, are invited. For more information and possible funding sources for the trip, check here:

There is 1 internship position open at the Consulate of Spain in Los Angeles for 2010-2011. A qualified applicant would meet the following criteria: -Must be a student and must take at least 1 credit hour per semester (including Spring/Summer) -Must be willing to live in the intern apartment provided -Must speak fluent Spanish -Must be a U.S. citizen (due to University regulations)

 The intern gets a monthly wage that they then use to pay the bills of the furnished apartment that is provided as well as other living expenses; there is not much left over for saving. It's a wonderful opportunity for a student who is organized, interested in foreign affairs, bilingual in Spanish and English, and is highly motivated.

 Please tell anyone interested to email their cover letters and resumes to Applicants will be contacted by phone to arrange an interview.

A 2008 NACE document states that the 83% figure is up from 9% in 1992. Combine this with the fact that 75% percent of employers consider the internship as a requirement of employment and the message is clear: every college student needs to think internship, internship, internship.
The President and CEO of the Utah World Trade Center will be talking to BYU Humanities students about local internships next Thursday, April 8 at 11 am in B-030 JFSB, BYU. 
From résumé tips, to networking to search skills, check out the up-to-date information in Jobweb:

A 2010 NACE study says that 75% of employers find the internship an essential element of a job candidate's profile. The study shows a clear correlation between internship experiences and a successful job search. More here:

Many posts have shown how business schools are turning back to the liberal arts to help develop the soft skills of communication and leadership. Some well-known schools are also using 'Improv' to foster quick thinking, creativity, and decision-making. 
I met with 3 recruiters from Goldman Sachs today who are in search of excellent liberal arts majors to join their Salt Lake City team. Their mandate is to hire 35% of their new recruits from liberal arts disciplines because the company is convinced that humanities majors bring a unique perspective and set of skills to the table. 

Basically they are looking for similar underlying traits in all of their candidates: intelligence (3.5 or higher), leadership skills, passion, motivation, curiosity, and communication skills, including foreign-language. It is not uncommon for candidates with these skills to be given training by Goldman in business or operations and then be sent to an overseas office.

Interested? Contact the College of Humanities advisement center for more info. 

See also their website for helpful tips for any job-seeking candidate: 

A little secret about the wealthy is that they often send their children to liberal arts colleges (or majors) because they know that they'll become cultivated and learn the kinds of leadership and communication skills that eventually lead to elite and well-paying careers. The paradox is that while the liberal arts are available to everybody, often those who need them most  think that they are useless. According to William Durden, 40% of Fortune 500 CEO's graduated from a liberal arts college. Read more here:


The U.S. State Department offers a variety of internship possibilities that would be perfect for Humanities majors.

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 From the United States IC website (

The United States Intelligence Community (IC), an integrated network of agencies that work together to protect our Nation's security, is seeking a culturally diverse, technically savvy workforce for exciting careers in a number of fields. Join us at the IC Virtual Career Fair to explore career opportunities, chat with recruiters, and apply for job openings - all from the comfort of your computer!

Tuesday, March 16, 2010 | 10 a.m. - 8 p.m. ET

The IC Virtual Career Fair will offer hundreds of career opportunities available in a diverse array of disciplines, including:

  • Cybersecurity/Information Assurance
  • Engineering and Physical Science
  • Foreign Languages*
  • Information Technology
  • Intelligence Analysis
  • Law Enforcement
  • Many others
Richard Bronk, the author of The Romantic Economist (Cambridge U. Press, 2009) gave two fascinating talks on the BYU campus last week.

The author revisits various Romantic critiques of the Enlightenment, in particular of the "rational actor" that economists often use to theorize economic activity.

The book is the perfect example of a non-humanities field being enriched by historical, philosophical and literary insights. 
The State of Arizona just rolled out a new statewide internship program that might interest Humanities Students. We met personally with the HR director, Susan Laurence, who said that there are many opportunities for students with the right skills. See the website here:

Recruiters from companies at this year's Career and Internship Fair were almost uniformly looking for students with the right skills, not the right major. Organizations as diverse as Goldman Sachs, Idaho State Government, Qualtrics,  Buckle, Smuckers, Sears/K-Mart, Eli Lilly, even an electrical engineering company offer internship experiences, career training, and eventually jobs to students from humanities majors.  They are interested in students who are motivated, creative, articulate, and with good people skills--i.e., you! Several recruiters explicitly said that they prefer the passion, flexibility and communication skills of Humanities students to other purely vocationally-oriented students.

If you missed the fairs this year (there is one in fall and winter), be on the lookout for them next year. Come to the Humanities College Advisement Center for help with CV preparation and interviewing strategy.

Government jobs are on the rise. Forbes says that there will be 600,000 new positions, many of which would be suitable for Humanities majors--especially for those who have followed the Hum+ or +Hum path. Some examples:

FBI ($57,000-$74,000)
Writer/Editor ($96,000-$174,000)
Intelligence Officer ($89,000-$136,000)
and so on.


In a down economy Apple somehow keeps beating Wall Street's expectations. How do they do it? According to Steve Jobs, the liberal arts play a big role. For example, concerning their new breakthrough iPad, Jobs says: "The reason that Apple is able to create products like iPad is because we always try to be at the intersection of technology and liberal arts, to be able to get the best of both." Read more here:

From today's Chronicle of Higher Education: "The employer survey, conducted by Hart Research Associates, asked 302 employers about specific emerging educational practices and their value in helping prepare college students for success." If you have a subscription, read about them here:

The gist of the article is that students need more of the skills provided by a liberal arts education, such as problem-solving, critical analysis, research and communication. The key, however, is to be able to demonstrate these skills through a significant senior project and/or an internship.
Given the costs of higher education, parents and students often think of college as a means to an end: the job. Students tend to choose (or are pushed into) majors promising immediate and tangible monetary rewards. Such choices obviously make sense, but they can lead to short-sightedness, especially when students look upon the liberal arts or general education courses skeptically as "fluff" or "obstacles" to graduation.

Research shows that vocational skills learned in job-oriented majors quickly become obsolete. In order to succeed over the long term, other, less tangibly marketable skills are required.

Career advising expert Sheila Curren argues that the humanities are best suited to transmit the lifelong career skills the market will be needing over the next few decades. She lists some of them here:
Former Disney CEO Michael Eisner double majored in English and theatre. With the benefit of hindsight, he also encouraged his 3 sons to study the liberal arts. Why? Listen to Eisner: "Literature is unbelievably helpful because no matter what business you are in, you are dealing with interpersonal relationships. . . . It gives you an appreciation of what makes people tick." Read here about other business leaders who claim that the humanities were the key to their long-term success:
In the wake of the recent economic crisis many business and financial institutions and even business schools have woken up to the fact that a liberal arts education is a highly valuable asset. Read this NYT article to find out why:

Students often wonder what they can do with a degree in the Humanities or Liberal Arts beyond teaching, writing or editing. You might be surprised to see what the business world has to say. Read more:

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