Advancing a Free Society

Declining Enrollment in the Humanities

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Humanities scholars at leading universities decry declining enrolment in the humanities.  To address this concern, Stanford’s Faculty Senate heard a panel discussion of six humanities professors on March 3, 2011, on the difficulties facing 11 humanities departments.

The premise on which the discussion was based is that humanities have been a key part of a liberal arts education, which is being challenged by declining enrolments.  The panelists did not blame reduced financial support.  Indeed, 42% of the faculty in the School of Humanities and Science teach in the 11 humanities departments, even though enrolment is only 18% of undergraduate majors.

Explanations and solutions?  Tuition-paying parents (full fare exceeds $200,000 for four years) and students fear that the humanities do not provide employable skills compared with degrees in science and mathematics.  Career concerns are crowding out humanities majors.

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