February 19, 2012 By

Humanities crisis in Public Universities

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With state funding suddenly withdrawn the public universities are in a state of undisputable dilemma with many of them turning to income generating programs like alumni donations, external grants or tuitions. With this new strategy, humanities programs suffer in general and small departments, like classics and philosophy, find themselves perpetually under threat, no matter what their historical significance to higher learning

Several campuses have shut down their entire programs. Indeed several campuses have closed the doors on entire programs. In 2010, SUNY Albany threatened to end programs in French, Italian, Russian, classics, and theater, but dropped the plan. Two years later, the University of Pittsburgh suspended graduate admissions to German, classics, and religious studies. U.K. universities have faced steep funding cuts leading to the closure of Middlesex University’s philosophy department. Canada’s University of Alberta adjourned admission to 20 humanities programs this year.

At present, university bureaucracies simply do not have mechanisms for valuing the contributions of the humanities, from their means of program evaluation to their standards for appointing new faculty.

President Obama recently announced his measure to counter high tuition rates on public campuses which was to link the funding of colleges to affordability. But affordability will be assessed according to tuition cost, the debt and earnings of graduates, and the percentage of lower-income students attending.

Many corrective measures were offered due to the importance of humanistic learning with people coherently asserting its crucial role in civic life. A democracy can only be as energetic as the minds of its citizens, and the questions fundamental to the humanities are also fundamental to a thoughtful life, an author wrote.

The new deal for the humanities is expected to bring about dynamic and constructive methods to change the thinking pattern of universities and to secure vibrant and robust humanities offerings to the students.

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