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Started by Langue_doc, November 03, 2023, 05:08:29 PM
QuoteCan Humanities Survive the Budget Cuts?After years of hand-wringing about their future, liberal arts departments now face the chopping block. At risk: French, German, American studies and women's studies.
QuoteThe state auditor of Mississippi recently released an eight-page report suggesting that the state should invest more in college degree programs that could "improve the value they provide to both taxpayers and graduates."That means state appropriations should focus more on engineering and business programs, said Shad White, the auditor, and less on liberal arts majors like anthropology, women's studies and German language and literature.Those graduates not only earn less, Mr. White said, but they are also less likely to stay in Mississippi. More than 60 percent of anthropology graduates leave to find work, he said."If I were advising my kids, I would say first and foremost, you have to find a degree program that combines your passion with some sort of practical skill that the world actually needs," Mr. White said in an interview. (He has three small children, far from college age.)For years, economists and more than a few worried parents have argued over whether a liberal arts degree is worth the price. The debate now seems to be over, and the answer is "no."Not only are public officials, like Mr. White, questioning state support for the humanities, a growing number of universities, often aided by outside consultants, are now putting many cherished departments — art history, American studies — on the chopping block. They say they are facing headwinds, including students who are fleeing to majors more closely aligned to employment.West Virginia University recently sent layoff notices to 76 people, including 32 tenured faculty members, as part of its decision to cut 28 academic programs — many in areas like languages, landscape architecture and the arts.Several other public institutions have announced or proposed cuts to programs, largely in the humanities, including the University of Alaska, Eastern Kentucky University, North Dakota State University, Iowa State University and the University of Kansas, according to The Hechinger Report, an education journal.Miami University, a public institution in Oxford, Ohio, with 20,000 students, is reappraising 18 undergraduate majors, each of which has fewer than 35 students enrolled, including French and German, American studies, art history, classical studies and religion.Those departments are dwarfed by computer science, which has 600 students enrolled; finance, with 1,400; marketing, with 1,200; and nursing, with almost 700.For the humanities faculty, "it's an existential crisis," Elizabeth Reitz Mullenix, provost of Miami University, said in an interview. "There's so much pressure about return on investment."She said that she hoped that the subject matter, if not the majors, could be salvaged, perhaps by creating more interdisciplinary programs, like cybersecurity and philosophy.The shift has been happening over decades. In 1970, education and combined social sciences and history degrees were the most popular majors, according to federal statistics.Today, the most popular degree is business, at 19 percent of all bachelor's degrees, while social sciences trail far behind at just 8 percent of degrees.
QuoteMore than 60 percent of anthropology graduates leave [Mississippi] to find work, he said.
QuoteMr. White said he personally would have liked to play acoustic guitar for a living. But he doubted his chances for success, given the small number of jobs available.Then he seemed to reconsider, conceding: "If you dig into the data, music majors do pretty well for whatever reason. They go to work at schools, they go to work at the university setting, or they work in churches."So on reflection, he softened his message. "What I would tell students is, don't write off all of liberal arts," he said. "Don't write off all of the fine arts."