Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Humanities Enrollments Are Not Declining

Michael Bérubé makes a very interesting point about enrollments in college humanities programs in this essay.Responding to an MSNBC reporter who said,
Students are now making the jump to more specialized fields like business and economics, and it’s getting worse. Just look at this: in 2007, just 8 percent of bachelors degrees were given to disciplines in the humanities.
Bérubé writes,
So things are getting worse? Really? No, not really, not even according to the graphic MSNBC put up at the :13 mark. . . . Compared to 17.4 percent in 1967, yow! We are totally in trouble! . . . except that the decline was entirely a phenomenon of the 1970s and 1980s, when the percentage dropped to about 7 percent. And it’s been 8-9 percent for the past 20 years now. . . .

The real story should be this: amazingly, remarkably, counterintuitively and bizarrely, humanities majors in the United States, as a percentage of all bachelor’s degrees, have held steady since about 1990.
It amazes me sometimes how often people repeat things that are simply not true.

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