The shift in the material base of the university leaves the humanities entirely out in the cold. Corporations don't earmark donations for the humanities because our research culture is both self-contained and absurd. Essentially, we give the copyrights of our scholarly articles and monographs to university presses, and then buy them back, or demand that our libraries buy them back, at exorbitant markups. And then no one reads them. The current tenure system obliges us all to be producers of those things, but there are no consumers." (Donoghue 2008)
The idea in education is one of operating as a business. The academic partners within the university setting are essentially in competition with one another for funding and other resources. If the students with stellar marks from certain departments are highly recruited by business and academia, the department is heralded and viewed upon favorably. Should a department not have much success in these areas, the consideration of the value added is questioned and policies for removal may be made. This is the case for Humanities, however the notion that human development is diametrically opposed to economic well-being is not widely accepted as other majors do provide some of the qualities afforded to a Humanities graduate.
For Humanities to survive, there must be a strategic plan that advocates and plans for its survival among the many schools of business, engineering, and other departments that are increasingly in competition with the Humanities division. For instance, can a Humanities major be a more effective human resources generalist than a business major? The soft-skills and rather unbiased nature of the Humanities education would benefit the employee in such a role. Whether the business major is sufficiently trained to make decisions from qualitative inputs is not clear whereas with the Humanities major the identification of such critical thinking is inherent throughout the coursework.
According to Donoghue, "In 2001 the entire for-profit, postsecondary industry graduated a little more than 28,000 students with associate and bachelor's degrees in business and management, a little more than 10,000 a.A.'s and B.A.'s in the health sciences, and not a single English major. Despite the progressive expansion of the general student population, the humanities stand to lose ground steadily. The last year in which 50% of students graduated with B.A.'s in traditional liberal-arts subjects-English, history, languages, philosophy -- was 1970, and that was higher than it had been in a while." (Donoghue, 2008)
Remodeling the Humanities field is critical to attracting and retaining students in a declining enrollment phase throughout all Humanities departments. Should this trend continue, departments will have to cut majors from the curriculum. Most will initiate the cutting of languages from the major and continue from there. Such cuts are tragic and dangerous to the overall competency and clarity of human intelligence and decision-making capability in society.
According to Donoghue, "Some people may argue that, even if the humanities flourish outside academe, some group will have to train the new generation of public humanists how to read and write. Perhaps, but I see no compelling reason that those trainers must be college professors....
There were man great poets, playwrights, and novelists in the United States long before 1922, when the University of Iowa became the first university in the country to accept creative projects as theses for advanced degrees. Curricula change over time, and the humanities simply don't have a place in the emergent curriculum of the 21st century." (Donoghue, 2008)
Donoghue will be correct in departments that are unable to transition from what is an untimely demise. The premise that Humanities departments are doomed to failure is indicative of a status quo form of thought. An inability to reinvent into a new education paradigm where the Humanities has a dynamic role in a 21st century economy and in the fabric of social theory examination of the new millennia. The challenges facing existing departments globally involves catering to the interests of the student whilst retaining the scholastic integrity and specialization of skill-set that is inherently proprietary to the department. This conveyance must engage the student and generate results precipitously to win favor among administrators and legislators that may seek to close the department.
Options available to the student must be made available at the high school level. Additionally, colleges and universities must include Humanities as a core discipline in the literature administered to prospective students to attract potentially interested students to study and learn the major. The lack of English majors and other specific majors within the Humanities discipline is indicative of a wealthy country that is losing its power base. The most economically successful empires had a rich and vibrant humanities scholars active in all walks of life, in business and politics. A sign of a civil and potentially prosperous society is one that is literate and able to reason. These intrinsic qualities inherent to the Humanities discipline must be made aware to students and explained to be a necessary background to the study of advanced fields including law and medicine.
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