Sunday, April 26, 2009
Cohen, Patricia. "In Tough Times, the Humanities Must Justify Their Worth." NEW YORK TIMES February 24, 2009.
One idea that elite universities like Yale, sprawling public systems like Wisconsin and smaller private colleges like Lewis and Clark have shared for generations is that a traditional liberal arts education is, by definition, not intended to prepare students for a specific vocation. Rather, the critical thinking, civic and historical knowledge and ethical reasoning that the humanities develop have a different purpose: They are prerequisites for personal growth and participation in a free democracy, regardless of career choice. But in this new era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency. Previous economic downturns have often led to decreased enrollment in the disciplines loosely grouped under the term “humanities” — which generally include languages, literature, the arts, history, cultural studies, philosophy and religion. Many in the field worry that in this current crisis those areas will be hit hardest. . . . Read the rest here: http://www.nytimes.com/2009/02/25/books/25human.html?_r=2.