The Death Of Humanities Majors

Tyler Durden's picture




 

"People say you should do what you love," but in the new normal reality, it appears - based on the flagging applications at Harvard's humanities division - that oft-used phrase has been appended with, "but, I don't want to be doing what I love and be homeless." As The WSJ reports, among recent college graduates who majored in English, the unemployment rate was 9.8%; for philosophy and religious-studies majors, it was 9.5%; and for history majors, it was also 9.5%. By comparison, recent chemistry graduates were unemployed at a rate of just 5.8%; and elementary-education graduates were at 5%. Students have taken note. At Harvard, humanities majors have fallen to 20% in 2012 from 36% in 1954. School presidents and administrators at liberal-arts colleges have already started to take a more job-oriented approach to a liberal-arts education, but face an uphill battle in the wake of stepped-up global economic competition, a job market that is disproportionately rewarding graduates in the hard sciences, rising tuition and sky-high student-debt levels.

 

Via The WSJ,

The humanities division at Harvard University, for centuries a standard-bearer of American letters, is attracting fewer undergraduates amid concerns about the degree's value in a rapidly changing job market.

 

...

 

Universities' humanities divisions and liberal-arts colleges across the nation are facing similar challenges in the wake of stepped-up global economic competition, a job market that is disproportionately rewarding graduates in the hard sciences, rising tuition and sky-high student-debt levels.

 

Among recent college graduates who majored in English, the unemployment rate was 9.8%; for philosophy and religious-studies majors, it was 9.5%; and for history majors, it was also 9.5%, according to a report this month by the Georgetown Public Policy Institute that used data from 2010 and 2011. By comparison, recent chemistry graduates were unemployed at a rate of just 5.8%; and elementary-education graduates were at 5%.

 

Students have taken note.

 

...

 

"People say you should do what you love," Mr. Lytle said during a break from his job giving tours of the Ivy League campus Wednesday. "But the reality is that it's kind of a tougher economic time, and we do have to worry about living after graduation. I don't want to be doing what I love and be homeless," he added.

 

...

 

The weaker job prospects in certain fields have led four Republican governors to call for funding cuts at departments in public universities that they don't believe prepare students for the workforce.

 

"If you want to take gender studies, that's fine, go to private school," North Carolina GOP Gov. Patrick McCrory said in a radio interview in January. "But I don't want to subsidize that if it's not going to get someone a job."

 

...

 

"I think that's because they have a very primitive and reductive view of what is essential in society," [Homi Bhabha, director of the Humanities Center at Harvard] said. "There are jobs, and even in business, the humanities play a major role."

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Mon, 06/10/2013 - 14:57 | 3643121 TeamDepends
TeamDepends's picture

Oh the Humanities!!

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:01 | 3643146 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

 

Why study human history? Better to ignore history and instead work for a company creating infrastructure to spy on Americans while earning tonnes of Treasury dollar$. 

 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:10 | 3643161 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

All the *best* schools (based on "who" you get to know) have been co-opted, and are now official extensions of the M-I-B-I-G (Military-Intelligence-Banking-Industrial-Genome) Complex that OWNS the "elected government."

The Ivy League is all about advanced weapons, information technology, fiat pushing on string theories, GMOs, and newer, faster and better ways to concentrate power and bring about control over everyone.

Truth is stranger than fiction.

Why Shouldn't I Work for the NSA?
Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:22 | 3643236 Manthong
Manthong's picture

Maybe a few of the kids will figure out that when “Humanities” in university has little to do with  HUMAN ACTION, in reality, nothing in that course of studies matters anymore.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 17:48 | 3643743 strannick
strannick's picture

Humanities degrees = sitting in a classroom being indoctrinated by tenured radical windbags. Good ridance. Let them become plumbers, and get themselves a good reading list. They would at least then be less of a menace

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 18:35 | 3643936 Manthong
Manthong's picture

"Humanities don't pay the bills"..

Yup.. in college and outside the synthetic MSM, but..

Human action.. and value /service for compensation crestes a real economy.

Maybe we will get back there one of these days.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 18:43 | 3643984 augustusgloop
augustusgloop's picture

I doubt a Harvard English Major is going to be jobless. A (pick your) State College one is. Even worse is a "career track" non-critical thinking / analytical degree-like business adminstration (non-accounting), marketing, etc.   Engineering is shit too (unless from a v. good school) as all the low level engineering jobs are pay like 7K a year and are based in mainland China.

Why even bother with a degree if you're not going to a 1st tier school. E. Snowden had a rockin' job w/o a h.s. diploma. 

Tue, 06/11/2013 - 01:02 | 3645017 TruthInSunshine
TruthInSunshine's picture

There are many, many Ivy League graduates, some with very good academic records, who can't find employment that's more financially rewarding than service sector slop shop work (e.g. waiting tables) right now.

If I'm not lying (and I'm not, because I've seen the resumés), you're buying.

Tue, 06/11/2013 - 06:21 | 3645192 Manthong
Manthong's picture

"all the low level engineering jobs are pay like 7K a year and are based in mainland China."

True dat..

But at least it is up from 6K/yr when I was there last , some 10 years ago.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:53 | 3643356 Acet
Acet's picture

Actually it's the people-people and the talk-people (Humanities, Management, Marketting) that specialize in power concentration and control over others.

Engineers just wanna make stuff and are rarelly people-oriented. In fact we (me being an engineer) are often accused of paying more attention to machines than to people, which is usually true.

(Which is probably why engineers are again starting to make more money: as it turns out in the long run a country that only makes hot air and bullshit is not going to go anywhere, but one that makes thingymajiggies will. That said, managers still do more money that everybody else)

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:06 | 3643412 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

 

"We knew that we had created a new means of warfare, and the question as to what nation, to what victorious nation we were willing to entrust this brainchild of ours was a moral decision more than anything else. We wanted to see the world spared another conflict such as Germany had just been through, and we felt that only by surrendering such a weapon to people who are guided by the Bible could such an assurance to the world be best secured."

- Wernhner von Braun, Nazi SS concentration camp commander, head of Marshall Space Centre at Nasa, one of the primary architects of Apollo mission

Point is, you need engineers and the liberal arts. Nazis weren't big on the liberal arts - for a reason. 

 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:44 | 3643568 rustymason
rustymason's picture

Actually, Germany had been a center of high culture for a very long time, and the German National Socialists took great pride in trying to protect that culture from the insane, murderous Bolsheviks who were hellbent on setting the entire European world ablaze, quite literally. 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:55 | 3643607 ElvisDog
ElvisDog's picture

Nice revision of history. Von Braun was never a "concentration camp commander". It's hard to see how he would have time since he was running the German rocket program. Slave labor from concentration camps was used in the V-2 rocket factories. Now certainly Von Braun "went along to get along" in terms of knowing what the Nazis and SS were up to, but "camp commander" is simply not true.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 17:05 | 3643627 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Now certainly Von Braun "went along to get along" in terms of knowing what the Nazis and SS were up to, but "camp commander" is simply not true.

It's an exaggeration, but considering his factory was using (likely 100%) concentration camp 'labour' he was more or less running his own concentration camp. 

His history is whitewashed because he is so esteemed in the USA, but unquestionably he was an early member of the SS, close to Himmler & used concentration camp slave labour well aware of what was going on (and by all indications supportive of it). 

And yes, his 'defence' is typical of all the nazis - they all just "went along to get along."

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 17:07 | 3643633 Fake_nation
Fake_nation's picture

So silly that the same people that rage about people going to college for humanities then act all outraged when an uninformed populace implements policies and structures doomed to self-destruction. As if good engineering can save a neo-primitive populace from itself.

The humanities in American colleges are all a joke, anyway, though, so we're not losing much. If you want to learn about the world read 19th century Russian and German thinkers. Nothing's really changed since then, and they are still the best.

Americans think the humanities are pointless because we only read the British, and they are uniformly awful. So many American boys give up on literature after being forced through the Jane Austen and Charlotte program in high school. Who wants to read that tabloid nonsense? Forget pretty much everything British, and arts and letters suddenly become appealing to a red-blooded male once more. 

In fact, you may even live longer if you learn another language and break out of the worldwide Anglo ghetto:

http://www.fakenation.info/please/speaking-english-is-bad-for-your-health

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:53 | 3643589 Glasnost
Glasnost's picture

.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:06 | 3643166 ACP
ACP's picture

Doesn't this just mean the the government needs to step in and spend more money to give these people a job doing nothing? Oh yeah, and give them a liveable wage like $150k to start, so they won't be "economically disadvantaged" compared to those evil smart people, like engineers and entrepreneurs, who so unfairly had the intelligence to achieve what they have on their own.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:18 | 3643217 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Doesn't this just mean the the government needs to step in and spend more money to give these people a job doing nothing? 

Not to engage your straw man too much, but what US industry doesn't .gov subsidize?

compared to those evil smart people, like engineers and entrepreneurs, who so unfairly had the intelligence to achieve what they have on their own.

First, around 60-70% of the people I know personally have engineering / science backgrounds, no one is disparaging that route. The unfortunate thing is a lot of them have wound up working in finance. Second, no one on this planet throughout history has ever achieved things 'on their own.' Only idiots believe the latter. 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:21 | 3643479 Encroaching Darkness
Encroaching Darkness's picture

Really?

"Second, no one on this planet throughout history has ever achieved things 'on their own'."

SOMEONE invented the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell. SOMEONE invented vulcanized rubber - Charles Goodyear. On the one hand, you are right - most achievement, scientific or ordinary, is built upon previous achievement, so that in that sense, yes, 'on their own' is a misnomer. But logic insists that SOMEONE discovered brass, bronze and even copper - or perhaps multiple "somebodies" across time and the face of the planet.

But you have to be careful with this - pretty soon, someone will claim "It takes a village to raise a child", some other Obozo will claim "You didn't built that yourself, someone else did" and we're off to the races - towards Hell.  

There are plenty of patents out there with only one name on them - which wouldn't have existed without ONE person working, thinking, inventing "on their own".


Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:35 | 3643533 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

SOMEONE invented the telephone - Alexander Graham Bell. 

First, that's a highly controversial statement. Second, the 'telephone' as Alexander Graham Bell is credited by many for was a long succession of inventions culminating in that device which was further developed later.

But logic insists that SOMEONE discovered brass, bronze and even copper - or perhaps multiple "somebodies" across time and the face of the planet.

The latter being true. 

Obozo will claim "You didn't built that yourself, someone else did" and we're off to the races - towards Hell.  

That's a separate issue but people often conflate the two. Everything humans use fundamentally day to day is based on millions of years of development by countless people. 

There are plenty of patents out there with only one name on them - which wouldn't have existed without ONE person working, thinking, inventing "on their own".

Patents today are held most often by corporations with many people involved in the research. 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 17:27 | 3643680 Encroaching Darkness
Encroaching Darkness's picture

Original JC quote: "Second, no one on this planet throughout history has ever achieved things 'on their own.'"

Later JC clarification: "Patents today are held most often by corporations with many people involved in the research. "

Thank you for proving / conceding my point.

"First, that's a highly controversial statement. Second, the 'telephone' as Alexander Graham Bell is credited by many for was a long succession of inventions culminating in that device which was further developed later."

Did or did not Bell get the patent? Did he invent the first successful working telephone? If not, who did? Claiming that he did not invent a certain microphone, certain circuit or copper wire does not diminish Bell's success in putting it all together; it did not exist in a complete form until he did. (I notice you didn't contest Goodyear's invention of vulcanized rubber, since it's fairly obvious he did that one all by himself.)

>>"But logic insists that SOMEONE discovered brass, bronze and even copper - or perhaps multiple "somebodies" across time and the face of the planet.

The latter being true.<<

If copper and brass and bronze were discovered multiple times by multiple individuals across time and the face of the planet, did not individuals do it each time, or were there corporations sponsoring research prehistorically?

And if those individuals each were ignorant of the others' efforts (say, pre-Columbian Americans, pre-Roman Greeks and pre-Empire Chinese), does that not still count as individual effort?

You cannot claim group effort is the only possibly driver of success. Individual efforts exist, and may be more important - try and do anything useful through a committee, and it becomes obvious.

Finally, "That's a separate issue but people often conflate the two." No, the ideological underpinnings of tyranny are inseparable from their effects - we are watching it now, with the NSA, IRS, State Department, etc. Claiming that there is no individual accomplishment is part of the psychological and ideological justification for government theft, oppression and suppression throughout history. Perhaps we will see through it this time, perhaps not - but that's what it is. If I didn't invent it, you can claim I don't deserve any benefit from it, and you can take it "for the people" "for the children" or for whatever reason-du-jour suits you, or that will fool enough people into supporting your theft.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 20:30 | 3644315 James_Cole
James_Cole's picture

Thank you for proving / conceding my point.

 

I was simply pointing out how most research is done these days, you were giving the impression that research is done on an individual basis. 

Whether patents are in individual names or corporate names is irrelevant to the discussion. 

The larger point is regardless of field, a very strong foundation based on thousands of years of research in a diverse range of disciplines is necessary to be able to add any additional innovations.  

Did or did not Bell get the patent? Did he invent the first successful working telephone? If not, who did? Claiming that he did not invent a certain microphone, certain circuit or copper wire does not diminish Bell's success in putting it all together; it did not exist in a complete form until he did. (I notice you didn't contest Goodyear's invention of vulcanized rubber, since it's fairly obvious he did that one all by himself.)

You're completely missing my point, inventions don't happen out of a historical context. Why is it that so many people in diverse areas of the world rushed to patent the same technology at the same time? Coincidence? Or a natural evolution of current research?

You cannot claim group effort is the only possibly driver of success. Individual efforts exist, and may be more important - try and do anything useful through a committee, and it becomes obvious.

 

 

 

Denying individuals is totally absurd, but so is pretending that an individual exists outside of the group / time / place.

Newton said it well:

" If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants."

 

 

 

 

Wed, 06/12/2013 - 01:25 | 3649244 dvfco
dvfco's picture

"If I have seen further it is by standing on the shoulders of giants." - Sir Isaac Newton

"The government is the giant, you owe us for the boost, and, for the view, we charge by the second ."  - President Obama

"I don''t know anything about giving Green Cpanies free views from the shoulders of giants.  We never rented giants to political donors for free." -  Obama

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 22:34 | 3644716 Clever Name
Clever Name's picture

Better to rewrite history for the Ministry of Truth.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 22:33 | 3644709 Go Tribe
Go Tribe's picture

That's downright inhumane.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 14:58 | 3643126 InTheLandOfTheBlind
InTheLandOfTheBlind's picture

humanities major is one of the few you could get for free at a public library (or atleast what public libraries use to be- i haven't been in a spell)

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:16 | 3643461 tango
tango's picture

As an engineer, avid reader and former classical pianist I can attest to the uplifting nature of the arts (and by extension, the Humanities). in the end we are defined by who we think we are culturally. My objection to the current trend in humanities is the wholesale forsaking of the European (Western) tradition for studies of other cultures that Re then held to be somehow superior. It may work for an anthropologist but it is not useful.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:49 | 3643583 rustymason
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Unfortunately, the libraries have been mostly emptied of real, classical content and replaced with textbooks about classical content, prepared by committees indifferent or hostile to Western tradition.

Also, I think that getting the most value from classical studies requires a good teacher(s). Self study wastes an enormous amount of time.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:02 | 3643141 Dagny Taggart
Dagny Taggart's picture

New and improved humanities degree = self sufficiency. (Get out of debt and grow your own food.)

OT: The L A Times is reporting that Edward Snowden has checked out of his Hong Kong hotel and his whereabouts is unknown. http://www.latimes.com/news/world/worldnow/la-fg-wn-snowden-gone-hong-kong-hotel-20130610,0,6912122.story

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:57 | 3643615 Kirk2NCC1701
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I hope he didn't fall for the Billion-Dollar Platinum Coin trick.  And holds out for the Trillion-Dollar Platinum coin.  ;-)

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:01 | 3643142 AccreditedEYE
AccreditedEYE's picture

Damn, everyone wants to be a Bankster......

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 21:13 | 3643430 Citxmech
Citxmech's picture

When it's between being a bankster and being a homesteader, it's no wonder why so many pick the way that doesn't wear overalls and look like work.

 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:01 | 3643144 imapopulistnow
imapopulistnow's picture

Women studies is a much better choice.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:48 | 3643349 bank guy in Brussels
bank guy in Brussels's picture

And within women's studies, the specialisation in lesbianism often has a lively following

 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:23 | 3643154 spooz
spooz's picture

George Carlin on education:

exerpt:

" Because the owners of this country don't want that. I'm talking about the REAL owners, now. The REAL owners, the BIG WEALTHY business interests that control things and make all the important decisions -- forget the politicians. The politicians are put there to give you the idea that you have freedom of choice.

...

But I'll tell you what they don't want. They DON'T want a population of citizens capable of critical thinking. They don't want well-informed, well-educated people capable of critical thinking. They're not interested in that, that doesn't help them. That's against their interests. That's right. They don't want people who are smart enough to sit around the kitchen table and figure out how badly they're getting FUCKED by system that threw them overboard 30 fuckin' years ago. They don't want that. You know what they want? They want OBEDIENT WORKERS. OBEDIENT WORKERS. People who are just smart enough to run the machines and do the paperwork, and just dumb enough to passably accept all these increasingly shittier jobs with the lower pay, the longer hours, the reduced benefits, the end of overtime, and the vanishing pension that disappears the minute you go to collect it."

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rsL6mKxtOlQ

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:03 | 3643159 Dareconomics
Dareconomics's picture

Stop the whining.  A humanties degree from Harvard is still a degree from Harvard.

 

http://dareconomics.wordpress.com/2013/06/10/around-the-globe-06-10-2013/

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:08 | 3643171 pragmatic hobo
pragmatic hobo's picture

anyone who can afford to go to harvard probably ain't worried about getting a job after graduation.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:09 | 3643176 Northeaster
Northeaster's picture

Exactly. More so if your roommate is a son/daughter of a sitting Member of CONgress, or some other crony connected entity.

One can be the dumbest one in class (maybe not even truly earned getting in), but due to having "Harvard" on your resume and the connections made is all that matters.

Not stating it's right, but that is how it is...for today anyway.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:51 | 3643359 youngman
youngman's picture

Look what Colombia did for Obama...he never went to school there..no one saw him..knew him..but he somehow graduates and goes to Harvard..same story....no papers written..but its on his resume....and he had connections...to the best Chum on campus or off I think....

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:08 | 3643177 denverdolomte
denverdolomte's picture

Bernanke studied liberal arts degrees at Ivy League schools and look how far he made it. When you grow up and mommy n daddy pay for everything, they you get a Doctorate of Philosophy, you truly can accomplish great things in this world. 

 

/sarc on

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:14 | 3643194 mccoyspace
mccoyspace's picture

I finished my philosophy degree in the 80s, when, looking at that chart, the number of humanities majors was even lower. It was a great subject to study and I still rely on techniques I learned there. It was no problem developing a career.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:21 | 3643232 duo
duo's picture

Can we stop calling them the "humanities" and call it "higher education without math"?

 

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 16:04 | 3643404 ToNYC
ToNYC's picture

There is no higher education without the math; you must mean the representational math that pedants teach to themselves  incomprehensively on blackboards. Nothing comes out right without the equals sign.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:23 | 3643240 HulkHogan
HulkHogan's picture

Are you now teaching it to others?

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:14 | 3643195 mccoyspace
mccoyspace's picture

I finished my philosophy degree in the 80s, when, looking at that chart, the number of humanities majors was even lower. It was a great subject to study and I still rely on techniques I learned there. It was no problem developing a career.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:18 | 3643219 kareninca
kareninca's picture

Same here.  Philosophy degree completed in early 80s.  No regrets; it really is handy to be able to reason.

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 17:13 | 3643650 Aurora Ex Machina
Aurora Ex Machina's picture

A critical mind might wonder why Philosophy isn't on the syllabus to all. The French make it mandatory to 16-18 yr olds; say what you want about their economy, but they're still a Republic (well - technically, it got a bit fuzzy there regarding De Gaul & coups).

Tue, 06/11/2013 - 14:15 | 3646958 kareninca
kareninca's picture

(ugh, self-correction:  late eighties.  guess that the training in reasoning doesn't extend to getting dates right)

Mon, 06/10/2013 - 15:15 | 3643200 kareninca
kareninca's picture

When I first read this WSJ article, I thought that it was dreadful that so few people were now reading Milton and Shakespeare and Plato.

Then I remembered that most humanities departments these days have been taken over by Higher Criticism, and don't assign any decent reading anyway.  They gibber to one another about "deeeferaaannce" and social norms and how nothing is truly any better than anything else and they publish journal articles about Superman and Gumby.

People are willing to sacrifice and skimp and take risks to study great ideas.  They are not going to risk all to study crap.

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