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Humanities in the National Headlines

Liberal arts education: Waste of money or practical investment? Study’s conclusions might surprise you.
Friday, 01/17/20

When Erika Hagberg started college at Washington and Lee University, she thought she might want to be a doctor but quickly discarded that idea. She took journalism classes, business classes, music theory, history, calculus, economics, art history. “I had no idea what the hell I wanted to do with my life,” she said.

National Humanities Alliance
Thursday, 09/12/19

The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) is a nationwide coalition of organizations advocating for the humanities on campuses, in communities, and on Capitol Hill. Founded in 1981, NHA is supported by over 200 member organizations, including: colleges, universities, libraries, museums, cultural organizations, state humanities councils, and scholarly, professional, and higher education associations. It is the only organization that brings together the U.S. humanities community as a whole.

How A Degree In Scandinavian Mythology Can Land You A Job At One Of The Biggest Tech Companies by Lydia Dishman | Fast Company
Friday, 06/26/20

Emma Williams had a major career eureka moment while she was working on a PhD in Scandinavian mythology. Williams, who is now the general manager of Bing Studios at Microsoft, had already pictured herself growing into a gray-haired professor in the halls of academia far from Silicon Valley. “I love this so much,” she recalls thinking, “but I don’t think it’s going to pay for my shoe collection.”

How humanities background could make you a better medical student by Brendan Murphy | American Medical Association
Friday, 06/26/20

If medicine is both an art and a science, it makes sense that a strong arts background—or an undergraduate course of study in a liberal arts major—can help make a strong doctor. An essay, “How to Fix the Premedical Curriculum—Another Try,” published in JAMA, goes a step further.

Liberal Arts in the Data Age by JM Olejarz | Harvard Business Review
Friday, 06/26/20

College students who major in the humanities always get asked a certain question. They’re asked it so often—and by so many people—that it should come printed on their diplomas. That question, posed by friends, career counselors, and family, is “What are you planning to do with your degree?” But it might as well be “What are the humanities good for?”

Why This Tech CEO Keeps Hiring Humanities Majors by Michael Litt | Fast Company
Friday, 06/26/20

The push to teach kids coding and technology now extends even to Sesame Street. The venerable children’s show recently introduced a “STEM” (science, technology, engineering, and math) component to its programming, and even Grover is now learning about physics, coding, and the power of trial and error.

10 CEOs Who Prove Your Liberal Arts Degree Isn't Worthless by Jack Linshi | Time
Friday, 06/26/20

Hearing a son or daughter say they're majoring in the liberal arts has never made more parents' hearts sink into their stomachs. STEM degrees appear atop nearly every 'best majors' list, President Barack Obama has made jabs at the usefulness of a humanities degree, and college dropouts have colonized the Fortune 500. So when unemployed English majors joke that no degree would be better than one in liberal arts—they might actually not be kidding.

In Defense Of The ‘Impractical’ English Major by Carolyn Gregoire | HuffPost
Friday, 06/26/20

According to the radio show A Prairie Home Companion, upon graduating from college with a degree in English, there are only several career options that one is faced with: flip burgers, teach the literary canon to bored high school students, write press releases for pharmaceutical companies, or (if you’re lucky), work in radio.

The Unexpected Way Philosophy Majors Are Changing The World Of Business by Carolyn Gregoire | HuffPost
Friday, 06/26/20

Dr. Damon Horowitz quit his technology job and got a Ph.D. in philosophy — and he thinks you should too.

Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing… and ignored by Gretchen Busl | The Guardian
Friday, 06/26/20

Deep in the corridors of Stanford University’s English department, graduate student Jodie Archer developed a computer model that can predict New York Times bestsellers. Her soon-to-be published research landed her a top job with Apple iBooks and may revolutionize the publishing industry.

History is Not a Useless Major: Fighting Myths With Data by Paul B. Sturtevant | American Historical Association
Friday, 06/26/20

Over the past 20 years, warnings from a variety of sources—from career counselors to administrators to government officials—have convinced many prospective college students (and their parents) that the only safe path to a well-paying job is through a STEM major.

What Can You Do With a History Degree? by Ilana Kowarski | U.S. News
Friday, 06/26/20

If it is true that history repeats itself, then a knowledge of history can help you understand the world as it is today and predict changes in the world before they occur. For this reason, those who study history often say their degrees not only allow them to learn about the lives of people in the past, but also help them gain a richer understanding of human behavior and societal trends. And this knowledge is applicable in a wide array of jobs and industries.

A Liberal Arts Degree Is More Important Than Ever by Willard Dix | Forbes
Thursday, 09/12/19

In our fractious world, discussions can all too often degenerate into arguments and shouting matches. The recent presidential election provides the most extreme case in point. The Chronicle of Higher Education has reported, for example, incidents of on-campus behavior causing fear and anxiety among students and faculty.

Actually, The Humanities Aren't In Crisis by Jordan Weissmann | The Atlantic
Thursday, 09/12/19

The humanities, you might have heard, are in peril. Deep peril. We're talking the long, dark night of the comp lit departments, here. According to David Brooks, they are "being bulldozed by an unforgiving job market" while simultaneously "committing suicide" via a nasty overdose of race and gender studies. Brooks's New York Times colleague Verlyn Klinkenborg concurs that "the teaching of humanities has fallen on hard times."

As Humanities Majors Decline, Colleges Try to Hype Up Their Programs by Jeffrey Selingo | The Atlantic
Thursday, 09/12/19

Even as college students on the whole began to shun humanities majors over the past decade in favor of vocational majors in business and health, there was one group of holdouts: undergraduates at elite colleges and universities. That’s not the case anymore, and as a result, many colleges have become cheerleaders for their own humanities programs, launching promotional campaigns to make them more appealing to students.

Don’t Scrap the Liberal Arts Majors by Nancy Hoffman, Marc Clamage, Sonia Cardenas, Tino Calabia | The New York Times
Thursday, 09/12/19

Smart schools are encouraging students to major in liberal arts, but they are also coupling practical career and professional training with them. If Illinois is pairing anthropology with computer sciences, it’s on track with Stanford, which is offering Art Is My Occupation: Professional Development for Creatives.

Ten Important Reasons to Include the Humanities in Your Preparation for a Scientific Career by dalbert |Science
Thursday, 09/12/19

It is common to hear undergraduates and recent college graduates preparing for a career in science complain: “I think I wasted a lot of time in college being forced to take humanities classes that had nothing to do with my area of study.” This is one of many manifestations of the ongoing centuries-long battle over the relationship between the sciences and the humanities.

The Humanities Are in Crisis by Benjamin Schmidt | The Atlantic
Thursday, 09/12/19

People have been proclaiming the imminent extinction of the humanities for decades. A best-selling volume in 1964 warned that a science-focused world left no room for humane pursuits, even as Baby Boomers began to flood the English and history departments of new universities. Allan Bloom warned about academics putting liberal ideology before scholarship in 1987; humanities degrees quickly rose. While coverage of individual academic disciplines like musicology, history, or comparative literature often deals with the substance of scholarship, talk of the humanities in general always seems to focus on their imminent extinction.

The Re-emergence of the Liberal Arts in the Tech-Dominated Workforce by Jeff Selingo | LinkedIn
Thursday, 09/12/19

A classic liberal-arts curriculum—arithmetic, geometry, grammar, logic, and rhetoric—has been at the foundation of American higher education dating back to the colonial days. America’s first college, Harvard, didn’t even offer bachelor of science degrees until 1850, and even then had lower admissions standards for its science programs, which resulted in a three-year degree instead of the normal four at the time.

The Unexpected Value of the Liberal Arts by George Anders | The Atlantic
Thursday, 09/12/19

Growing up in Southern California, Mai-Ling Garcia’s grades were ragged; her long-term plans nonexistent. At age 20, she was living with her in-laws halfway between Los Angeles and the Mojave Desert, while her husband was stationed abroad. Tired of working subsistence jobs, she decided in 2001 to try a few classes at Mount San Jacinto community college.

The Value of a Liberal Arts Education by Wendy B. Libby | HuffPost
Thursday, 09/12/19

The 2016 presidential election process has got me thinking about the value of a liberal education, and not for the reasons you might suppose. My intent isn’t to add fuel to our nation’s already heated political environment. Instead, I’d like to reflect on higher education’s role at a time when “alternative facts” and “fake news” have become a fixture in our national conversation, stirring up a mood of uncivil discontent and mistrust.

Use Data to Make a Strong Case for the Humanities by Norman M. Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend |The Chronicle of Higher Education
Thursday, 09/12/19

Leaders in higher education often ask us how they might make a case for the humanities, when students and parents are so deeply concerned about their economic futures.

Why we still need to study the humanities in a STEM world by Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post
Thursday, 09/12/19

It is common to hear today, in the era of big data and STEM — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — that liberal arts degrees are, well, relatively worthless. What is someone with a degree in English literature going to do with it, besides teach?

Why "worthless" humanities degrees may set you up for life by Amanda Ruggeri |BBC
Thursday, 09/12/19

At university, when I told people I was studying for a history degree, the response was almost always the same: “You want to be a teacher?”. No, a journalist. “Oh. But you’re not majoring in communications?”

Are the Humanities History? by Michael Massing | The New York Review of Books
Thursday, 09/12/19

Who is going to save the humanities? On all fronts, fields like history and English, philosophy and classical studies, art history and comparative literature are under siege. In 2015, the share of bachelor’s degrees awarded in the humanities was down nearly 10 percent from just three years earlier. Almost all disciplines have been affected, but none more so than history. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, the number of history majors nationwide fell from 34,642 in 2008 to 24,266 in 2017.

A Great Engineer Needs the Liberal Arts by Thomas Betts |InfoQ
Thursday, 09/12/19

The education of most software engineers involves a heavy focus on STEM subjects: science, technology, engineering, and math. Other subjects, especially those under the umbrella of liberal arts, are often thought of as less important, or just an annoying requirement to graduate. However, much of what helps you become a great software engineer, and create outstanding software that people want to use, comes from outside the world of STEM. This might sound like great advice to give to a freshman computer science student, but it's equally helpful for the 20-year software veteran.

That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket by George Anders | Forbes
Thursday, 09/12/19

In less than two years Slack Technologies has become one of the most glistening of tech's ten-digit "unicorn" startups, boasting 1.1 million users and a private market valuation of $2.8 billion. If you've used Slack's team-based messaging software, you know that one of its catchiest innovations is Slackbot, a helpful little avatar that pops up periodically to provide tips so jaunty that it seems human.

Why Liberal Arts and the Humanities are as Important as Engineering by Vivek Wadhwa | The Washington Post
Thursday, 09/12/19

Earlier in my academic career, I used to advise students to focus on science and engineering, believing that they were a prerequisite for success in business. I had largely agreed with Bill Gates’s assertions that America needed to spend its limited education budgets on these disciplines, because they produced the most jobs, rather than the liberal arts and humanities.

Why the Tech World Highly Values a Liberal Arts Degree by Valerie Strauss | The Washington Post
Thursday, 09/12/19

Students across the country are leaving home to begin college careers. Those beginning at liberal arts colleges will almost inevitably misunderstand, or not understand, the function of a liberal arts education. And those of us who work in higher education and understand innately the multi-leveled value of a liberal arts education must do a much better job of explaining it.

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