The Corner

Education

Are the Humanities Doomed?

Apparently not, argues writer Matt Robare in today’s Martin Center article. 

Citing a new study by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Robare writes:

While the popularity of specific majors has changed, overall, the humanities as a whole are still attracting a strong number of students. Most importantly, the study didn’t find any evidence for a decline in the number of tenure-track positions or a replacement of full-time faculty with adjunct faculty.

There isn’t a mass exodus of students — at least so far. However, many of them seem to prefer to blend their studies in the humanities with job-oriented work. Encouragingly, students are apparently the least interested in the most blatantly politicized of courses in the field, such as ethnic studies, women’s studies, and so on.

In fact, the humanities are still successful enough to lure in a great many grad students — far more than have a chance at academic positions. Robare cites Professor Jason Brennan:

He said that one possibility for the seeming proliferation of adjuncts is that there are far more humanities Ph.D students and doctoral programs than in other disciplines, leading to a glut of young people with doctorates competing for entry-level academic jobs. He said that schools were expanding doctoral programs as a way to get more funding, making the school more expensive and prestigious.

Colleges and students have adjustments to make, but the humanities aren’t in dire straits now.

George Leef is the the director of editorial content at the James G. Martin Center for Academic Renewal.

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