Two recent reports that delve into the state of the humanities have set off a broad debate about the origins of a slump in those majors over the past 50 years and what colleges might do to bolster the disciplines.
Some observers have argued that humanities faculties across the nation are to blame for the decline. Others are skeptical of the value of a humanities degree in a tight job market.
Meanwhile, some advocates for the humanities argue that accounts of the so-called crisis are exaggerated, with undergraduate interest in the disciplines remaining stable in recent decades. Faculty members are pushing back against the notion that a humanities degree is a bad bet.
Following are articles and essays with more insights on the conversation.
Reports describe coming changes in the curriculum, new internships, and improved advising, among other steps to reverse the slide in majors.
The report, prepared for members of Congress, affirms the disciplines' importance to society and defends their role as a part of a balanced education.
Enrollments are holding steady, and graduates are doing well economically. So it's about time to stop focusing on what's gone wrong, writes Alexander Beecroft.
Anthony T. Grafton and James Grossman explore what the Harvard report doesn't say.
The slump ended long ago, writes Michael Bérubé: Enrollments aren't down at all, despite what the naysayers want us to believe.
Harvard University's report on the decline of the humanities has some striking implications, writes Russell A. Berman.
The discipline puts the curricular cart before the horse, and smart, wary students notice and steer clear, Mark Bauerlein writes.
Giving vocational degrees some elements of a humanities education and allowing students to have real-world experiences before choosing a major are two ways to revamp the undergraduate model, writes Jeff Selingo.
A new report assessing the state of the humanities reinforces the sense that people no longer feel the intrinsic value of reading important books of the ages, writes David Brooks.
In the drift away from the humanities, we risk losing something essential in ourselves, writes Verlyn Klinkenborg.
There is now a higher distribution of career-focused college majors, but these degrees may be going to students who would not have gone to college at all in prior generations, writes Nate Silver.
This report was produced by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, a panel formed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences at the request of members of Congress.
The university's Arts and Humanities Division produced its own set of reports that document the decline and offer some remedies.