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Value of the Humanities

I’m glad to see the AHA has taken to rounding up links to articles that defend the humanities. As budgets get crunched, humanists must assert their position and reaffirm their importance in modern society.

It’s a work in progress, so I hope this blog post looks laughably outdated in a short amount of time. But what struck me was the disproportionate amount of works in higher ed news sources. Yes, we should defend the humanities to our peers and administrators, but don’t we have an obligation, if the humanities truly are a benefit to society, to make sure all of society knows that?

As I was writing this post earlier today, there were sixteen articles posted half of which were from either Inside Higher Ed, The Chronicle of Higher Education or Perspectives. Duke and Phi Beta Kappa Society also published articles in their magazines, which I would suggest are quasi-academic as their audiences are the general public.

This left six articles from sources aimed at the general public. One blog, two New York Times articles, and one article each from the Guardian, Cleveland Plain Dealer, and Huffington Post.

While clearly there is still an engagement with the public and hopefully the numbers continue to improve as more resources are added. However, if we assume for a minute that this small sample is representative (we probably shouldn’t but go with me for the sake of the argument), should humanists be satisfied that our message reaches the public less than 40% of the time?

Published in Academia

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