Are we witnessing the fall of the humanities? Readers should feel the reverberations from posts across the Internet. Academics, writers, and artists have expressed their concerns for the liberal arts. No one is optimistic regarding the future.
Some colleges and universities are cutting their humanities programs. The cost of a college education continues to escalate. Based on data from the Department of Education, the annual price of an undergraduate education at public institution of higher learning is 13,600. Parents have concerns that their children will major in literature, instead of business. Students are feeling the pressure from both families and an economy still in recovery. No one wants a future with the prospects of underemployment. The result is students are skipping the liberal arts.
These are some legitimate concerns. Despite all of this, society can benefit from an infusion of the humanities. There are advantages individuals can pick up from liberal arts. Some of the gains include: critical thinking, clear writing, the ability to speak and literacy.
Writing well (and reading the work of great authors) is a fundamental precept of the humanities. Ironically, college faculty notice students are struggling with their writing. Unfortunately, the liberal arts are struggling in higher education.
If you conduct an online search on the phrase “job skills every employer wants,” the ability to communicate is in the top 10. In today workplace, the capacity to communicate is vital. The talent to convey your thoughts and effectively contribute your ideas is essential. Individuals with this skill can provide solutions in a concise and direct way. Communications is in an important tool in a professional’s portfolio.
According to The Heart of the Matter, robust policies to support the humanities and social sciences are imperative to secure America’s future. The main goals supported by this report include:
- To educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first century democracy
- To foster a society that is innovative, competitive and strong
- To equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world.
All of the goals are very important. The report quotes Roger W. Ferguson, the Chief Executive Officer of TIAA-CREF regarding the role of liberal arts. “Of the individuals in my organization who receive the most consistently positive feedback who are most valued by our clients only a sliver ever went to business school. Most of them learn their financial activities at our firm, but came into the firm with a much broader range of skills.”
No one is advocating that students abandon computer science to major in literary theory. In the workplace, there is a sense of urgency that many employees need to improve their writing skills. Some people did not have that opportunity in high school or college. Companies are encouraging training and support life-long learning. Fortunately, it is never too late and the humanities will help sharpen the mind.