Is there a "crisis" in the humanities?

  • Blaine Greteman. "It's the End of the Humanities as We Know It: And I feel fine."
    This lively look at the state of the humanities suggests that the "decline" in the humanities has been widely trumpeted for hundreds of years. The author does admit, however, that humanities departments do "have problems" that can be addressed. In conclusion, Dr. Greteman acknowledges that there will always be tensions that we should navigate in the humanities, and we should engage in discussions on the "crisis" with that in mind.
  • Heidi Tworek. "The Real Reason the Humanities Are 'in Crisis.'"
    The author makes the case that one of the reasons for the decline in humanities degrees is the infusion of women into STEM-related fields. She also uses statistics to point out that the current decline is smaller than in the 1970s, when women began to make different choices for their field of study. She concludes by asserting the practical value of a humanities degree generally, and suggesting that further study might enable humanities scholars to find long-term solutions to the "purported crisis."
  • Jillian Berman. "These college majors are dying."
    The author presents statistical evidence that humanities and arts degrees are dropping, due to difficult job prospects for graduates. The article also argues that this trend "could accelerate," especially as student debt increases. A partial solution, the article postulates, is to incorporate liberal arts courses into more traditional STEM degrees.
  • Ben Schmidt. "Crisis in the humanities, or just women in the workplace?"
    This digital humanities article studies statistics on the "drop" in the humanities enrollment since the 1970s. The author comes to several conclusions, including that the current levels of enrollment are "not far out of line with pre-1960 level of humanities majors" and even exceeds those numbers when you "account for population." Additionally, the post identifies the changing majors of women as a major reason why there has been a decline in humanities degrees. The author concludes with his solution to the "crisis" - better marketing of the humanities, and less panic.
  • Nate Silver. "As More Attend College, Majors Become More Career-Focused."
    Nate Silver responds to Verlyn Klinkenborg's article in this statistics-based analysis of trends in higher education, specifically, the supposed decline of degrees in English. He posits that the decline of degrees in English is quite small when considered as part of the population as a whole, instead of a portion of degrees awarded. This is potentially due to more individuals attending college who would otherwise simply have entered the job market in decades past. Silver concludes his article with an argument that, as more individuals enter college, we should emphasize a full liberal arts education.
  • Alex Dean. "Japan's humanities chop sends shivers down academics spines."
    This article from The Guardian provides a global perspective on the "crisis" in the humanities. Specifically the author discusses recent attempts by Japan's government to focus university resources on STEM-related fields. From there the article expands its breadth to include changing perceptions on the humanities in the UK and elsewhere. The article does offer a positive conclusion, stating that the vigorous public debate surrounding these issues indicates a strong public appreciation for the humanities.

How can humanities and the arts challenge and change the "crisis" narrative?

  • American Academy of Arts & Sciences. "The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a vibrant, competitive, and secure nation."
    The report identifies and discusses the current "crisis in the humanities" and offers three goals of the humanities that are currently being underserved: Creating knowledgeable citizens; fostering an innovative, competitive, and strong society; and equipping the nation for leadership. The article also gives tangible steps for the achievement of each goal, and breaks these down into K-12 education, university education with a focus on the liberal arts, research, cultural institutions, and international security.
  • Richard Brodhead. "Brodhead: In an Age of Metrics, Liberal Arts Education Still Holds Value."
    Dr. Brodhead speaks on the general misperceptions of liberal arts degrees as having little value, and corrects such ideas as not being in sync with what employers are looking for. In addition, Brodhead argues that the H&A lead to a greater sense of well-being in life. He describes his work with The Heart of the Matter study and how its practical suggestions will lead to enhanced discussions of H&A and literacy in education. He concludes with a call to action for the federal government as well as the general population, to support and strengthen the humanities.
  • Christopher Panza and Richard Schur. "To Save the Humanities, Change the Narrative."
    Panza and Schur begin their article by acknowledging that, while the "crisis in the humanities" data are not supported by factual data, the perception of the "crisis" is powerful in and of itself. At Drury, the authors' university, the idea of a crisis stymied growth in the humanities, leading to faculty feeling under-appreciated. Drury professors combatted the narrative in the following ways: Collaborating together, utilizing social media, finding space on campus, beginning a blog, starting a video stream, and calling on all humanities faculty to contribute to discussions. Through these strategies, Drury's faculty began to "take charge of the narrative."
  • Harvard College. "The Tracing of the Arts and Humanities at Harvard College: Mapping the Future."
    This extensive work describes each of the major arguments against spending resources on the humanities. The authors' main focus is in the area of undergraduate education and how to bring new life into those programs. In shaping their arguments, the authors draw upon statistical analysis, historical trends, and a wide range of academic sources. In summary, the authors identify a renewed focus on undergraduates, collaboration (particularly with the arts), an emphasis on career opportunities for humanities majors, and a broadening of various fields as tentative solutions to the problem of dropping undergraduate enrollment. The report concludes with tangible next steps to lead toward long-term change.
  • Daniel R. Schwarz. "Why Study the Arts and Humanities?"
    In this response to "The Heart of the Matter," Schwarz articulates the two-pronged value of a humanities degree: Practical skills and personal well-being. Scwarz argues that the humanities opens up imaginative worlds to those who engage in them, and the power of narrative in our lives. His solution to the "crisis" in the humanities is a focus on attracting students and a cultivation of passionate faculty.
  • Eric Liu. "Study liberal arts – and gain power."
    Liu makes a strong case for the importance of a liberal arts education in this CNN Opinion article. He presents the evidence that liberal arts majors are declining, and argues that humanities scholars have not been adequately "marketing" their topics of study, despite the fact that inspirational figures and stories exist everywhere. For example, Liu uses Steve Jobs as an example of a liberal arts advocate who saw the value of the arts and humanities. Liu's article serves as an accessible and engaging beginning to a discussion on how humanists, artists, and social scientists can begin a counter-narrative to challenge the single-minded STEM narrative.
  • Gretchen Busl. "Humanities research is groundbreaking, life-changing…and ignored."
    Busl makes an interesting case for the importance of humanities research to companies and nonprofits, as distinct from the practical skills taught to students in classrooms. She uses examples of research in publishing, robotics, and medicine to show the many ways in which humanities research can enhance public well-being. Busl, a professor of English at Texas Woman's University, argues that the way to defeat the "crisis" narrative is for humanists to become more involved in "public scholarship" that increases the visibility and impact of cutting-edge research.
  • Tania Lombrozo. "The Humanities: What's the Big Idea?"
    In this article, Tania Lombrozo interviews Daniel Boyrain, a professor of rhetoric and Near Eastern studies who is a part of UC Berkley's "Big Ideas" program on the humanities. The group is seeking to build a "post-disciplinary" program focused on one question: "What does it mean to be human?" During the interview Boyrain distinguishes the humanities from the sciences and the "liberal arts" and discusses the uniting points that bring all humanities disciplines together. The article concludes with Boyrain's argument that the "human sciences" are just as important as their STEM counterparts, but are in need of redefinition.
  • Scott Jashik. “Manifesto for the Humanities.”

    This Inside Higher Ed article explores a new book by University of Michigan’s Sidonie A. Smith, who directs the university’s Institute for Humanities. The book’s title, Manifesto for the Humanities: Transforming Doctoral Education in Good Enough Times, reveals Smith’s belief that there are opportunities for humanists even amidst the purported “crises” dominated discussions about the humanities. In his interview with Jashik, Smith explains that academia is always changing and humanists should take this opportunity to define and examine their profession. She discusses the value of small units and classes, the need for changes to doctoral education, and the future of the dissertation. According to Smith, small changes will “accumulate force” in determining the future of the humanities, without being overwhelmed by the “crisis” narrative.

How can skills taught in humanities and arts classes equip students for their careers and lives?

  • Max Nisen. "11 Reasons to Ignore the Haters and Major in the Humanities."
    The author addresses the narrative that liberal arts degrees to not contribute to vocational success by offering several counter-arguments. These are expressed in a creative, upbeat manner with videos, visualizations, and provocative research.
  • Association of American Colleges and Universities. "The Economic Case for Liberal Education."
    This informative presentation discusses numerous statistics related to the H&A and employability. The research being communicated includes anecdotal quotes from employers as well as data from employer surveys. Several graphs illustrate new job needs and educational requirements. All of these slides serve the argument that liberal arts degrees are more important than ever. Additionally, the presentation makes the case that those pursuing STEM degrees should supplement their learning with liberal arts courses, as employers are looking for graduates with well-rounded experiences.
  • George Anders. "That 'Useless' Liberal Arts Degree Has Become Tech's Hottest Ticket."
    This Forbes article discusses recent trends in the tech world toward seeking employees with humanities degrees. Anecdotal evidence on this topic is supplemented with real-world data about the tech industry. The author makes the point that, as software becomes more automated, companies will be seeking out liberal arts majors and requiring their engineers and programmers to have a well-rounded education. The interpersonal skills learned through a liberal arts degree, in particular, is shown as attractive to employers.
  • Fareed Zakaria. "What is the Earthly Use of a Liberal Arts Education?"
    This important article addresses the assumption that a "technical" degree cannot have a liberal arts component. On the contrary, the author argues that the humanities and arts provide an invaluable perspective for any type of degree. The liberal arts also teach writing and "how to speak your mind," two skills that are valuable in any profession. Most importantly, according to the author, the humanities enable us to live a "good life" and not just have a "good job."
  • James Engell. "On the Value of a Liberal Arts Education."
    Harvard English Professor James Engell begins his article by addressing the idea that the liberal arts have little "utilitarian" value, and counters that most employers, law schools, and medical programs are actively seeking qualities that humanities and arts majors learn in their courses. He brings up several valid points for taking liberal arts classes, placing a particular emphasis on the tangible rewards of the humanities and arts knowledge in a "fast evolving world" where vocational training is often quickly outdated. Engell concludes with the assertion that liberal arts are also valuable in that they promote well-being for those who engage them.
  • Ken Makovsky. "The Difference Humanities Makes in Business."
    Ken Makovsky does an excellent job of summarizing contemporary pessimism concerning the humanities, relying on other articles and cultural references to make this point. A communications specialist, Makovsky disagrees with this perspective, countering that liberal arts skills are essential in the business world. He also assigns blame to "thought leaders in the humanities," who he contends do a disservice to their fields by not marketing their value. The article concludes by summarizing the many benefits the humanities and arts bring to a prospective employee, including writing and communication skills.
  • Elizabeth Segran. "Why Top Tech CEOs Want Employees with Liberal Arts Degrees."
    This article clearly summarizes the arguments from humanities detractors and defenders, with an emphasis on CEOs and their appreciation of liberal arts degree-holders. These titans of industry assert that the humanities and arts offer innumerable benefits in the marketplace, including storytelling, subjectivity, critical thinking, logic, and reason. The article also discusses important gender nuances in the tech industry, and why women are often hesitant to embrace liberal arts as a component of their more traditional technology degrees. On the whole, however, the author argues that interest in the humanities and arts are increasing, and employers are at the forefront of this movement.
  • E. Bruce Pitman. "A liberal arts education has tremendous value."
    As a Dean of Arts and Sciences at the University of Buffalo, E. Bruce Pitman is able to clearly describe the pressures students face to major in technical or business-reated degrees. Pitman explains that, in fact, more employers are looking for liberal arts graduates, and a humanities or arts degree can lead to a successful career. He also speaks directly to employers and parents, illustrating these students' skills with powerful stories of success.
  • Wilson Peden. "The Myth of the Unemployed Humanities Majors."
    In this post, featured on by the Association of American Colleges & Universities, Peden addresses the inaccurate information circulating about humanities majors. In particular, he takes issue with recent claims that graduates with humanities degrees will be unable to find jobs. On the contrary, Peden uses data from the Humanities Indicators project to prove that humanities students go on to make significantly more than their counterparts with only high school diplomas. The post is an interesting example of a reaction to politicians and others who believe that only specific majors are worthwhile for students to pursue.
  • Joshua Rothman. “Shut Up and Sit Down: Why the leadership industry rules.”

    Rothman uses poetry and history to introduce readers to the idea that blind faith in leadership has its dangers. The concept of “leadership” has been extremely fluid throughout history and is also salient to political conversations today. Rothman’s excellent article is an exercise in using the humanities to explore an important societal issue. He describes his leadership classes and the powerful lessons that history, literature, and humanities scholarship can teach us about this complex term.

What is the future of humanities and arts education?

  • Leonard Cassuto. “What Will Doctoral Education Look Like in 2025?”
    In this provocative article, Cassuto expresses his concerns that, “even by academic standard,” graduate schools in the United States are being undervalued and are not reacting to long-term trends. He communicates his hope that, “doctoral programs learn to shrink gracefully” to make sure they are providing adequate opportunities for their graduate students. While Cassuto is unsure how quickly graduate programs will implement changes, he describes recent efforts by the National Endowment for the Humanities to begin necessary dialogues. These conversations give Cassuto hope that humanities graduate programs will eventually make progress.
  • Amanda Bosworth. “NEH chair calls for the restructuring of academic humanities.”
    The article summarizes and analyzes the February 24th remarks of William Adams, chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. In his speech, Adams discusses political trends and engagement in the public sphere. Specifically, he addresses the “enormous pressure on the humanities in academia” and how they can be addressed. In addressing these issues, Adams advocates for new directions in humanities graduate education and collaboration with non-humanities disciplines. Bosworth does note that several in his audience pressed him on the former solution and “expressed concern” about the latter. Despite this skepticism, Adams and the NEH are engaged in pursing these solutions, and Bosworth’s article illustrate the myriad of responses to these new directions.
  • Jeff Noonan. “Ten Theses in Support of Teaching and Against Learning Outcomes.”
    Noonan’s provocative posting makes a compelling case for teaching that awakens “the desire to think” in students, as opposed to the simple transmission of information. His argument is connected to trends in higher education such as “skill-programming” and “information transfer” that will not benefit students’ abilities to think critically and embrace learning. Noonan’s perspective provides a valuable voice in the debate over learning outcomes, and offers several articles for further reading.
  • David Staley. “The Public Humanities: A New Way of Thinking About Higher Education.”
    This article, written by Ohio State professor David Staley, states that “we can chance perceptions” about the value of a humanities education through more “expansive” measurements. Staley shares his experience engaging with the public and producing a publication that addresses relevant social issues. The article’s emphasis on lifelong learners makes a compelling argument for the broadening of higher education programs and goals.

  • Leonard Cassuto. “The Alt-Ac Job Search: A Case Study.”
    Cassuto begins this thought-provoking piece on non-academic careers options for PhD graduates with a description of one student’s experience. The student and her advisor describe the balance needed to build an academic resume while also preparing for a non-academic job. The story also illustrates a key issue for advisors – how to prepare students to “pursue jobs that [the advisor] knows nothing about.” Cassuto relates the student’s experience to explore the potential dilemmas and opportunities with an alt-ac job search. He concludes that “we have to start somewhere” with alternative graduate education and such stories can gradually change faculty perspectives on these shifts.

  • Colleen Flaherty. “Winners and Losers in Shifting Grad Education.”
    Flaherty’s piece in “Inside Higher Ed” looks at multiple perspectives on the raise in graduate pay at the College of Liberal Arts at Purdue University. The “modest” bump in pay (from $14,000 to $15,000) is important in what “Purdue is proposing in exchange: namely, a redistribution of college resources” that involves cuts to graduate programs. Flaherty describes the thinking behind the shift and reactions from faculty, chairs, graduate students, and administrators. The “winners” in this instance are non-humanities majors and undergraduate education generally.

  • Ben Wildavsky. “While liberal arts decline in U.S., China and other economic rivals add them.”
    This compelling article reports that, even as the liberal arts at United States universities are under attack, Chinese advocates are lobbying for a more holistic educational system. Wildavsky points out that some in China see liberal arts education as a potential investment into “critical and creative thinkers, problem solvers, gifted communicators, team managers and ethical leaders” who will also be “forces of liberal democracy.” The article reveals the preliminary results of liberal arts expansion at one Hong Kong university, with indications of more data to follow. Though the majority of Wildavsky’s article focuses on this single university, his implication is that other institutes of higher education in China and elsewhere may embrace in the humanities, in spite of the United States’ current debate about the value of a liberal arts education.

What is the purpose of higher education, particularly as regards a liberal arts degree?

  • Christopher Nelson. "Why we are looking at the 'value' of college all wrong."
    The article takes on the perception that a university degree is not valuable by providing economic context. The author makes the point that the maturation of the student, and not necessarily the knowledge gained, provides the value of a university degree. The maturation of the student depends on several factors, including mentorship, a semester-long project, internships, and extracurriculars.
  • Drew Gilpin Faust and Alison Byerly. "Two College Presidents, on Higher Education."
    In their "letters to the editor" of the New York Times, both university presidents argue for a well-rounded education that includes the humanities, arts, and social sciences. Faust, in particular, sees a liberal arts education as encompassing STEM students and being important to students regardless of their specific field of study. Both authors advocate for a well-rounded liberal arts education that is separate from "vocational schools."
  • Nelson S. Schwartz. "Gap Widening as Top Workers Reap the Raises."
    The article gives an overview of the job market for those holding undergraduate degrees and emphasizes the importance of a higher education. The author contrasts humanities and engineering degrees, pointing out that humanities students start out making less, but can go on to achieve great success.
  • Louis Menand. "Live and Learn: Why we have college."
    The author brings a fascinating perspective on trends in education, as a one-time Ivy League professor now teaching at a public university. He relays the argument that "college is, essentially, a four-year intelligence test" and places students in buckets. But while this idea may be in play, education also benefits students in a holistic and social way. The article goes on to describe how both of these theories play into the issue of university selectivity and reviews two studies on the topic. One fascinating discovery indicates that liberal arts students show greater improvement than their peers in general learning goals. The author therefore makes the case that liberal arts classes should be an important component of university education, even in vocational degree programs.
  • William Deresiewicz. "The Neoliberal Arts: How college sold its soul to the market."
    In this provocative article, Deresiewicz identifies what he believes to be a key problem in higher education - a lack of attention on "thinking and learning." He sees universities as chiefly concerned with preparing students for the workforce and facilitating vocational training. In crafting this argument, Deresiewicz explores the history of higher education and how we arrived in our current "neoliberal" position, where students are no longer encouraged to question and be curious, and faculty are overlooked in favor of a bureaucratic administration. The article concludes with the assertion that higher education is a "right," and not a "commodity," and should be treated as such by our government and universities.
  • Mike Wesch. "Steps Toward a Big Idea Syllabus."
    In this fascinating post, Mike Wesch describes the process of creating a syllabus that challenges and explores the "big ideas" his students are wrestling with, as opposed to simply the relaying of information. Through outlining a step-by-step process, he presents his case for why this is a more effective method of engaging students in humanities topics.
  • Valerie Strauss. "Why the tech world highly values a liberal arts degree."
    Associate professor Cecilia Gaposchkin begins her article by stating that universities are doing a poor job of explaining the value of a liberal arts degree. She then takes on the topic, tracing the history of liberal arts institutions while pointing out the inherent benefits of a well-rounded education. This historical narrative leads to the conclusion that liberal arts degrees lead to in-demand job skills and, less tangible, "social value." The importance of a humanities degree, according to Gaposchkin, is not necessarily rooted in the teaching of specific content, but in teaching students how to question, consider, and "maximize the capacity of human intelligence."
  • Kwame Anthony Appiah. "What is the Point of College?"
    In this thought-provoking article, Appiah identifies the two competing ideas of what college should be - a useful path to a career, or means by which students prepare for life and build their values. He characterizes the two as "Utility U" and "Utopia U," respectively. He explores the goals and values of each model, and how the two often converge and come together. The author claims that the tensions between the two will never be resolved, and probably should not be. The true purpose of college, according to the author, can be both.
  • Christopher Newfield. “The Humanities as Service Departments: Facing the Budget Logic.”
    Newfield’s article presents the author’s rich experience with university budgets and argues that universities are trending toward a “service” unit model for humanities departments if there is not substantial faculty involvement. He uses the State University of New York as an example of a situation where this actually occurred. Newfield then describes his experience with university budgets and how faculty should view the numbers and their “return on investment” or ROI. He ends the article with a call to action, arguing that faculty can stop the trend toward service units if they get involved with budgetary data.
  • Julie Renee Posselt. “Turning the Tide: Can admissions reforms redefine achievement?”
    Posselt writes this article in The Conversation as a reaction to the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s report “Turning the Tide.” In her article, Posselt agrees with the report that new methods of reviewing student applications are needed. She points out that, “college admissions offices send messages to students about what society values,” and these offices should determine how to analyze students with diverse experiences. She differs from Harvard’s report in several key ways, including differentiating “achievement pressure” from the issues faced by low-income students. Posselt concludes by arguing that the “mystique” some faculty associate elite universities is potentially more of a problem than the Harvard report indicates, and we need a holistic approach to admissions in order to address all of these admissions dilemmas.

  • James Kaufman. “While rethinking admissions process, consider creativity.”
    Kaufman, a professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Connecticut, responds in this article to Harvard’s “Turning the Tide” admissions report. While Kaufman acknowledges the report’s highlighting of important issues, and university admissions office’s related movement toward more inclusive admissions practices, Kaufman argues there is an element missing – creativity. Kaufman extols the virtues of assessments that gauge creativity, showing that they are more “gender- and ethnically neutral” and can be accomplished through innovative questions about real world problems. As conversations continue, he points out, creativity should be included as a possible metric.

  • Marilynne Robinson. “Save Our Public Universities: In defense of America’s best idea.”
    Robinson begins her article by exploring the foundations of higher education in the United States. She then examines where higher education currently stands, emphasizing specialization and the shift from educating “citizens” to “taxpayers.” Weaving together the past and the present, history and philosophy, Robinson creates a compelling narrative of modern changes in higher education and contemporary values. Robinson then points to major challenges and changes in modern society and reveals how our perspectives are impoverished. Robinson’s perspective offers fascinating insights into the perceived flaws and potential in public universities.

  • Valerie Strauss. “What the ‘liberal’ in the ‘liberal arts’ actually means.”
    This article dives into the meaning of ‘liberal arts’ as a way of enlightening discussions on the value the liberal arts contribute to an education. Specifically, the author points out that the “liberal” in liberal arts is not the opposite of “conservative,” rather, “it is a broader concept.” The article is important to consider as academics and the public continue to debate the value of liberal arts and their role in society.

What is the value of the humanities and the arts in our world?

  • Kevin F. McCarthy, Elizabeth H. Ondaatje, Laura Zakaras, Arthur Brooks. "Gifts of the Muse: Reframing the Debate About the Benefits of the Arts."
    This study breaks down the various benefits of the arts - including economic, cognitive, and health - with a focus on the intrinsic value of the arts in schools and communities. These intrinsic benefits have both private and public benefits. The article builds upon previous work and includes a literature review of past studies observing the same topic, and identifies the methodological issues with each. The authors conclude with an overview of government policies related to the arts and discuss how legislation could be improved.
  • Peter Brooks. "Misunderstanding the Humanities."
    This provocative article seeks to dispel myths about the humanities; namely, that the discipline is devoted to "teaching human values." Rather, the humanities enable us to ask, discuss, and understand complex questions. Brooks encourages other scholars to join him in articulating the value of the humanities, as he argues that this would best bring about change.
  • Cynthia Haven. "Can the arts and humanities 'save us'?"
    This Stanford Reporter article includes interviews from ten faculty members, asking them about the value and the future of the humanities. The wide range of responses include assertions that the humanities provoke us to action, inform our judgments, enable us to communicate, and provide us the opportunity to take pleasure in thinking. The quotations from the ten faculty interviewed, offered without interruption or commentary, provide an ideal starting place for further conversations.
  • Barbara Ernst Prey. "The Value and Importance of the Arts and Humanities in Education and Life."
    In this compelling interview, Washington College President Dr. Mitchell B. Reiss advocates for the arts and humanities, and their emphasis in a university education. Reiss sees the liberal arts as playing a vital role in the development of any student, both professionally and personally. Reiss sees STEM and the Humanities and Arts as all playing a vital role in today's society, and uses real-world examples to back up his claims.
  • Verlyn Klinkenborg. "The Decline and Fall of the English Major."
    Klinkenborg's article discusses the decline in the humanities from a teacher's point of view, and places particular emphasis on the arguments of parents that English will not lead to a "good job." The article admits that undergraduate courses could be improved and humanities could do a better job of "explaining why" they matter. The article concludes with his assertion that writing should be discussed as a valuable "inheritance" of education, though it is not often addressed in such a context.
  • Marnie Badham. "The Menace of Measurement: A discussion about arts indicators."
    This study brings together a plethora of arguments and strategies related to the collection of data in an arts context. As in "Gifts of the Muse," which the author cites, the arts are described as having "intrinsic" value that is not easy to quantify and measure. Social and economic "indicators," on the other hand, can be measured, but must not be confused as "cultural indicators." The author goes on to explore the many definitions of culture, and how culture has be used and integrated into planning and policy. She concludes her study with her own model, which incorporated arts that do not have a direct economic benefit attached, and the results are often difficult to quantify. She admits that her framework needs work, but gives suggestions for how organizations and cities should proceed with defining indicator frameworks.
  • Julius Taranto and Kevin J.H. Dettmar. "The Secret of Good Humanities Teaching."
    The article, a collaboration between a professor and a student fellow, seeks to outline a formula for effective teaching in the humanities. The authors come to the conclusion that the "best professors 'took texts that seemed complicated, made them look simple, and then made them complex again'." By doing this, these teachers effectively taught the nuances of texts and encouraged multiple readings. The rest of the article outlines how this looks in the classroom, using the teaching of The Heart of Darkness as an example. The authors conclude that the skill of "rereading" should be taught and embraced by professors in universities.
  • James Mullholland. “Academics: forget about public engagement, stay in your ivory towers.”
    In this provocative article, Mullholland addresses the idea that academics should generalize their research for the public. He argues that academic research has an impact on global issues without professors needing to leave their “ivory towers,” and they can actually be more effective without engaging with the public directly. Though the article does conclude by acknowledging the importance of broadly communicating, he also urges academics to “stay in your offices…the results might be more significant than any of us first recognize.”
  • Christine Schott. “How to Save Literary Studies.”
    Schott explores the relationship between public readers and academics as she proposes possible ways to bridge the gap between literary criticism and amateur literature enthusiasts. One method she proposes is simplifying ideas and abandoning jargon. She also states that academics could “repackage” their interests and help readers understand the text in a way that makes sense to them. She admits that “what I suggest here may feel like a cheapening of our profession” but thinks the conversation is valuable and she be pursued by academics.

  • A. O. Scott. “Everybody’s a Critic. And That’s How It Should Be.”
    In this piece from The New York Times, A. O. Scott argues that art critics have an important role to play in the world, even as digital and internet-based methods of critiquing and enjoying films are becoming more prevalent. Art critics’ job, according to Scott, is to encourage others to “think” and to enable them to elevate art. The article is essential for anyone pondering the role of a critic in society, particularly amidst the “culture wars” that Scott identifies as being never ending and important.

  • Naomi Wolf and Sacha Kopp. “Should Academics Talk to Katie Couric?”
    Wolf and Kopp present their initiative to train Stony Brook University professors to present their research to the public without “in any way “dumbing down” their arguments.” This is important, the authors argue, because there is a desperate need for “scholarly rigor, full documentation, and original thinking” in the public sphere. Wolf and Kopp describe their efforts to train faculty to communicate for a public audience – perhaps the most fascinating part of this description is the “initial fears” of faculty that Wolf and Kopp address. But despite initial concerns, the results were encouraging. Several faculty’s contributions to the public discourse, and their relevance to public discussions, are described at the end of the article. Wolf and Kopp’s description of their methods and results is essential reading for any institution considering training their faculty in communication for the general public.

What can the humanities and the arts contribute to STEM fields?

  • Patti Saraniero. "Growing from STEM to STEAM."
    The article describes STEAM projects and how they can be used in curriculum development. Such projects unify learning goals in science and technology with artist expressions, which gives such concepts greater relevancy to students.
  • Justin Brady. "STEM is incredibly valuable, but if we want the best innovators we must teach the arts."
    The author proviedes an overview of recent policy and legislation efforts to create a focus on STEM. He argues that the arts are equally as important, and lead to significant innovations. The article includes research on education with and without an arts component, pointing out that students with no arts experiences are often unengaged and have lower test scores. The author concludes by illustrating how this focus on the arts in K-12 education actually benefits students as they enter the job market.
  • Ken Robison. "Do Schools Kill Creativity?" (TED Talk)
    Robinson discusses current problems in education, and why STEM is not sufficient to reach every student at the K-12 level. He points out what we are not properly educating our children for the future if we remove the arts from education.
  • Andrew Hacker. "The Frenzy About High-Tech Talent."
    The author addresses the idea that the United States is "falling behind" in education and what the jobs of the future are going to be. The author questions the fervor over STEM, and guides the reader toward a discussion of what we want the future of education to look like. In conclusion, the article questions the importance of STEM to our nation's future, and calls for broadening our students' learning.
  • Mark Brown. "Why the arts are essential to science and innovation."
    This is a short summary of recent quotes from industry leaders who see the arts as an "essential" part of a well-rounded education for STEM graduates. They see skills in the arts as leading to greater success in innovation and in the economy generally.

How is the public engaging with the humanities and the arts?

  • The National Endowment for the Arts. "How a Nation Engages with Art: Highlights from the 2012 Survey of Public Participation in the Arts."
    This report from the NEA is based on survey data from July, 2013, related to trends in arts consumption among Americans. Using these data, NEA is able to draw broad conclusions about trends in how Americans engage with the arts.
  • Arts Midwest and Metropolitan Group. "Creating Connection: Building Public Will for Arts and Culture."
    This study seeks to showcase the value of the arts to society, in spite of declining participation in arts-related activities, as evidenced in 2012 NEA report. It explores past efforts to create awareness and advocacy around the arts, and why such efforts largely failed. The report offers up the idea of "building a long-term public will" around the arts as a more long-term solution. Components of this proposal include determining how individuals experience culture in everyday life, the importance of framing the conversation through the term "creative expression" instead of "arts and culture," and which "core values" drive a person's arts experiences. The results of this study are displayed in accessible and interesting visualizations and detailed analysis of key findings.
  • The National Endowment for the Arts. "Surprising Finding in Three New NEA Reports on the Arts."
    This article a summary of the last three years of NEA reports, including visualizations and graphs. The authors emphasize that arts are social to most people, and describes how people in the United States participate and engage with the arts in their everyday lives. Also, the NEA looks at the economic impact of the arts on the overall economy.
  • Arnold Weinstein. “Don’t Turn Away From the Art of Life.”

    Weinstein’s article discusses the “diminishing” of what he terms, “Enthusiasm for the Humanities” and what our response should be as a nation. He points out that the value lies in how the humanities “interrogate us” while simultaneously pointing us “to future knowledge.” Through references to modern crises and what Weinstein describes as the “Gothic,” dehumanized technology industry, the author makes a case for integrated the arts and humanities into modern life.