Posts from "August, 2013"

A Reminder of What the Humanities Are Ultimately For

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: http://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/why-major-in-humanities-not-just-for-a-good-job–for-a-good-life/2013/08/08/83bc2734-fed1-11e2-96a8-d3b921c0924a_story.html

Humanities “Crisis” and Demographics

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: http://www.newrepublic.com/article/114168/womens-empowerment-behind-humanities-crisis#

Hart Research Associates Find Employers Value Liberal Arts

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: http://www.aacu.org/leap/documents/2013_EmployerSurvey.pdf