Are dwindling support for the humanities and a lack of diversity in higher education two separate issues, asks Christine Henseler, or are they, in fact, closely intertwined?
Arts and Humanities: Don’t Leave School Without Them. This is not the advice most often heard among high school or college students. We all know not to leave school without a plan, a skill-set, a career path, but without the Arts and Humanities? Why not?
A few weeks ago, I opened The Atlantic to read an article about Al Gore’s venture called The Generation Investment Management firm. What I liked about this company’s mission was the extent to which it promoted a long term and socially responsible investment approach that could also lead to increased profits in dollars and cents. Instead of disconnecting “doing the right thing” from “making money,” they believed that a company’s portfolio could include both health and wealth.
The high school and college students of today are the workforce of tomorrow. They have a personal interest in the shape of the future, and they are directly affected by national conversations about educational value, access, and cost.
These students are bombarded with messages concerning the usefulness of their college degrees. The practicality of different fields of study. Their employability and salary prospects. In essence, the major question running the show is: What is your worth when you consider the worth of your college degrees?
Although they are directly affected by these messages, college-age students have been largely absent from national conversations about the value of the arts and humanities in higher education, in the professional world and in society at large. It is for this reason that in the winter and spring of 2015, 13 out of 45 applicants were selected for a student fellowship generously granted to the New York Six Liberal Arts Consortium by the Andrew Mellon Foundation.
The cost of college and the cost of the Humanities. Everyone wants to know: “How much does an education in the Arts and Humanities count in today’s day and age?”
Perhaps we should take a step back and ask ourselves how we are counting (the value of) the Humanities.
As part of my fellowship project, I met with several students to discuss their decision to major in the arts/humanities. Their responses to my questions were fascinating. Here are the profiles of the students I talked to, along with a record of our conversations, for you to read.
Science differs from arts and literature, in that the knowledge gathered would exist whether humans studied it or not. Paintings, music, and novels require artists. DNA replication, the succession of ecosystem, and the evolution of a species are automatic processes, more than capable of carrying on without human interference.