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  • Originally published 12/03/2013

    The Real Humanities Crisis

    The point of work should not be just to provide the material goods we need to survive.

  • Originally published 07/01/2013

    Anthony T. Grafton and James Grossman: What a New Harvard Report on the Humanities Doesn't Tell Us

    Anthony T. Grafton is a professor of history at Princeton University and a former president of the American Historical Association. James Grossman is executive director of the association.Have you heard about the classics major who intends to be a military surgeon? Or the employers who think entry-level interviewees ought to show up having read the company history? No, of course you haven't.Those people are not just unmentionable, they're unthinkable—at least in the vast, buzzing worlds of the news media, the blogosphere, and the many TED Talks. No one who studies the humanities could possibly have a practical career in view, anymore than someone who has a practical career in view would ever bother studying the humanities, right? And in the corporate world, only the CEOs, not the HR people, value a liberal education. Why would a company like Enterprise Rent-A-Car care if a prospective employee took the initiative to read the company history? What could the study of the past contribute to a career in, say, medicine?

  • Originally published 06/19/2013

    1964 Report: Humanities "Uniquely Equipped to Fill the 'Abyss of Leisure'" Made Possible by Forty-Hour Workweek

    Credit: Wiki Commons.A new report on the state of the humanities in the United States reaffirms the importance of understanding our shared history as one of the cornerstones of democratic decision-making.The American Academy of Arts and Sciences released the comprehensive report of its Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences this week, and is presenting its recommendations to Congress on Wednesday.The Commission will emphasize the need to increase funding to the National Endowment of the Humanities (which has seen its budget decline nearly $17 million since 2010), as well as state humanities councils, and is calling for a humanities program similar to the proposed STEM Master Teacher Corps, which would provide career advancement and better pay for the top five percent of STEM teachers in the United States.The Long View

  • Originally published 06/11/2013

    Ben Schmidt: The Exaggerated Crisis in the Humanities

    Ben Schmidt is the visiting graduate fellow at the Cultural Observatory at Harvard University.Last week, the Wall Street Journal ran an article about falling enrollments in the humanities disciplines. The news hook is a Harvard report about declining enrollments in the humanities; the moral they draw is that humanities enrollments are collapsing because the degrees don’t immediately lend themselves to post-graduate jobs. (Never mind that the Harvard report makes clear that the real competition is with the social sciences, not the 1% of humanities-curious first-years who major in computer science).But to really sell a crisis, you need some numbers. Accompanying the story was a graph credited to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences showing a spectacular collapse in humanities enrollments. I made one of the first versions of this chart working on the Academy’s Humanities Indicators several years ago. And although it shows up in the press periodically to enforce a story of decay, some broader perspective on the data makes clear that the “Humanities in crisis” story is seriously overstated.

  • Originally published 05/04/2013

    Philosophy Matters

    Martin Heidegger, one of Hitler's philosophers. Credit: Wiki Commons/HNN.With today's heated rhetoric against the study of history and philosophy, it's worth reminding our readers that philosophy matters, and -- tragically -- one of the ways it matters is how it can be twisted into support for atrocities.