Scholarship on the State of the Humanities

Alan Wildeman on Ignoring the Liberal Arts

The President of the University of Windsor, Alan Wildeman, has contributed a piece to the Globe and Mail titled “We Ignore the Liberal Arts at Our Peril.” In it he argues for the humanities and social sciences.

The exhilaration of the Age of Enlightenment of the 17th and 18th centuries has been replaced by the nervousness of what appears to be an Age of Justification in the 21st century. Moderm society’s love of innovative gadgets and apps, pronouncements that youth can now be taught on the Internet (and possibly become high-profile entrepreneurs to boot), and social media outpourings that give falsehoods as much airplay as truths, have created a cocktail of rhetoric for critics who are sure that a liberal arts degree is a worthless investment.

Wildeman mentions research from the Education and Policy Research Initiative to the effect that humanities and social science students start with earnings of around CAD $40,000 after graduation and are earning close to double that 13 years later. You can read a summary by of the lead researchers, Ross Finnie, in an Ottawa Citizen piece, “How Your Degree Might Influence Your Earning Potential.” Too many people are basing their opinions on the liberal arts based on short-term employment. (Read more…)

The Liberal Arts and the Fate of American Democracy

In the democracy of ancient Athens and the republic of ancient Rome, freedom was only for the few. Slaves, servants, and women had to toil so that free men could cultivate their minds, participate in the government, and enjoy the highest goods of human life—in short, so they could learn and practice the liberal arts.

Paul Jay’s The Humanities “Crisis” and the Future of Literary Studies

Newly published from Palgrave Macmillan is Paul Jay’s The Humanities “Crisis” and the Future of Literary Studies. Jay, who is Professor of English and a Fellow at the Center for Interdisciplinary Thinking at Loyola University Chicago, examines in the book recent debates about the role of the humanities in higher education. As he describes, I […]

The Making of the Humanities Conferences and “Making of the Humanities IV”

By Floris Solleveld Final Call for Papers — “The Making of the Humanities IV”, Rome, 16-18 October 2014 The history of the humanities considered as a whole is still a young discipline. While there are well over a hundred institutes and graduate schools in the history of science, or the history and philosophy of science, […]

Humanities in the Twenty-First Century: Innovation in Research and Practice (MLA 2013 Panel)

For the 2013 Modern Language Association convention in Boston, 4Humanities co-leader Christine Henseler organized a panel titled “Humanities in the Twenty-First Century: Innovation in Research and Practice.” The panel, which occurred on January 4, 2013, featured the following papers: “The Promise of Humanities Practice,” Lynn Pasquerella (President, Mount Holyoke College). “Making the Humanities ‘Count,’” David […]

Confronting the Criticisms: A Survey of Attacks on the Humanities

The task of defending the relevancy of the humanities relies significantly upon succinctly and creatively responding to critiques made against them. This article attempts to summarize a fair number of view points critiquing the humanities, with the goal of providing a sort of partial overview of arguments that are appearing in the ongoing debate.

You’re getting the universities you want

The Globe and Mail (Canada) has a bunch of articles looking at universities and the place of the humanities. One is by Clifford Orwin of the University of Toronto titled, You’re getting the universities you want – and deserve. He argues that societal pressures on public universities don’t give us much wiggle room. Society wants […]