Times: Are Humanities Majors Better at Branding?

We did not know about the 50% drop in liberal arts majors "in the past generation." We don't know upon what David Brooks basis his assertion. Sure, in the 15 years prior to the current recession, jobs were plentiful, money flowed and business majors got hired.

Brooks asserts that now people will flock to business majors in even greater numbers because of the recession and the need to be competitive to find employment. We have heard the case for the opposite argument. There is no point now to bypassing the more meaty majors that deal with the content of cultures and civilizations. Might as well study that and become an educated person. The jobs are not there anyway.

We thought it was a commonplace that you get your advanced skills at the workplace and your education and knowledge in the University. Brooks may be wrong about what students will choose. Culture with content is more substantial and more interesting. Business schools may be forced to close up if the recession turns into a depression and lasts for the next generation. That sure is a possibility, we hope not a probability.

We sure don't have a clue about what he calls the "big shaggy". We do know that he left out religious studies, philosophy and a whole lot more in the core humanities and just about all of the social sciences.

A real education is a value in and of itself that resists reductionism. Eek. Does Brooks actually think a humanities major will be better at branding? Does any such claim merit serious attention?

There's great complexity in explaining where we have been and where we are going in our society and in particular in our universities. Brooks took a big swing at that set of issues and missed them by a mile.
History for Dollars
When the going gets tough, the tough take accounting. When the job market worsens, many students figure they can’t indulge in an English or a history major. They have to study something that will lead directly to a job.

So it is almost inevitable that over the next few years, as labor markets struggle, the humanities will continue their long slide. There already has been a nearly 50 percent drop in the portion of liberal arts majors over the past generation, and that trend is bound to accelerate. Once the stars of university life, humanities now play bit roles when prospective students take their college tours. The labs are more glamorous than the libraries.

But allow me to pause for a moment and throw another sandbag on the levee of those trying to resist this tide. Let me stand up for the history, English and art classes, even in the face of today’s economic realities... more...

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