Click here for THE homepageA declining, out-of-touch discipline and its vocational counterpart must merge to offer a thriving third way, argues Toby Miller. The humanities in the US are finished. They are unpopular with students, politicians and bureaucrats. Students vote through enrolment. The humanities' share of majors stands at 8-12 per cent of the nation's undergraduates. That's less than half the figure in the 1960s and the lowest point since the Second World War, apart from Ronald Reagan's recession.
Between 1970-71 and 2003-04, English majors declined from 7.6 to 3.9 per cent of the national total, other languages and literatures dropped from 2.5 to 1.3 per cent, philosophy and religious studies fell from 0.9 to 0.7 per cent, and history decreased from 18.5 to 10.7 per cent. By contrast, business enrolment increased by 176 per cent and communication studies shot up 616 per cent.
The government's view? President Barack Obama's 2011 State of the Union address called for increased expenditure on mathematics and science. It did not mention the humanities. The 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act provided not a cent for humanities research: science received $3 billion (£1.9 billion). The Republican Party has announced its desire to exterminate the National Endowment for the Humanities. And administrators? They cut and cut. More...