Humanities in the News

Humanities in the News is a curated newsfeed about university study of the humanities.

And the news is, it’s not all bad news.

Degrees in the humanities:

  • lead to jobs;
  • nurture democracy, and;
  • benefit society.

We all face new challenges in a global economy; this section is for news, voices, and commentary about how the humanities are responding.

Please feel free to send suggestions and links for this page to us at humanities@utoronto.ca

The Top Eleven Reasons to Study the Humanities 

 

13 November 2020 (Hakim Bishara, Hyperallergic) How do Americans Feel About the Arts? A new Survey Offers Insights

"Most Americans have a positive attitude towards arts and humanities, a new study reports. But their relationship to art and art history varies significantly according to their political leanings, socioeconomic status, and gender."

 

11 November 2020 (Johnny Horton, Crosscut) A Seattle Professor on helping veterans find home in the humanities

"Since the coronavirus drove many classrooms online, we’ve opened our virtual community to veterans from all over America...At their best, the humanities create a community where members can share their experiences honestly without the fear of being judged. The second syllable of the word “community” descends from the Latin munitio, meaning fortification. It’s related to ammunition. Ultimately, I think the humanities build a community that fortifies against the dangers of isolation. The humanities reinforce our communal nature through communication."

 

(24 October 2020 Catherine Ford, The Sydney Morning Herald) Cuts to humanities departments are cuts to our ability to reason

"When you diminish humanities departments, you fracture and destabilise an apparatus that fosters and supports thinking – analytical, creative, imaginative, productive, progressive thinking.
    When you cut down humanities teachers and students, who, together, bring what they read, learn and test in their courses to a society that cannot afford to think less, or be critiqued less rigorously, or fail to imagine, you are shutting the book on the very heart and brain of that society. You attack places where enlightenment, useful consternation and doubt, and intellectual pleasures and satisfactions, are a currency passed from one generation to the next. You target an enterprise, a practice, and a legacy, whose benefits are far-reaching."

 

10 September 2020 (Chris Stokel-Walker, The Guardian) 'Humanities graduates are just as employable': do the sciences really lead to more jobs?

"a report by the British Academy, published this year, shows that those taking arts, humanities and social science degrees end up in jobs in eight of the 10 fastest-growing sectors of the economy more often than their Stem graduate counterparts. Overall, Stem graduates have just a single percentage point advantage in finding any job within a year of graduating than humanities graduates. “Humanities, social science and arts graduates have always been as employable as Stem graduates,” says the British Academy’s Harriet Barnes."

 

19 June 2020 (Peter Hurley, Policy Fellow, Mitchell Institute, Victoria University) The Conversation) Humanities graduates earn more than those who study science and maths

 

11 January 2019 (Sydney Johnson, EdSurge) University Data Science Programs Turn to Ethics and the Humanities

“Computer science has been trying to catch up with the ethical implications of what they are already doing… Data science has this built in from the start, and you’re not trying to retrofit something to insert ethics—it's making it a part of the design principle.”

 

7 January 2019 (Michael T. Nietzel, Forbes Magazine) Whither The Humanities: The Ten-Year Trend in College Majors

"The humanities are struggling. Fewer graduates are majoring in English, history, foreign language, or liberal arts now versus ten years ago… As more students opt for occupationally linked majors, the role of the humanities and social sciences in the curriculum must be protected."

 

1 April 2019 (Amanda Ruggeri, BBC WorkLife) Why Worthless Humanities Degrees May Set You Up for Life

"Take law. In the US, an undergraduate student who took the seemingly most direct route to becoming a lawyer, judge or magistrate – majoring in a pre-law or legal studies degree – can expect to earn an average of $94,000 a year. But those who majored in philosophy or religious studies make an average of $110,000. Graduates who studied area, ethnic and civilisations studies earn $124,000, US history majors earn $143,000 and those who studied foreign languages earn $148,000, a stunning $54,000 a year above their pre-law counterparts."

(Robyn Autry - JHI's Visiting Public Humanities Faculty Fellow, 2020-21, Aeon ) -- Sociology’s race problem

Urban ethnographers do more harm than good in speaking for Black communities. They see only suffering, not diversity or joy.

(Melissa J. Gismondi, - JHI's New Media and Public Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow 2020-21, The Walrus ) -- You Can’t Run Away from Homesickness

At a time when the very planet we live on is transforming into an unfamiliar place, our sense of home—and what it means to miss it—may be challenged at its core.

(Melissa J. Gismondi - JHI's New Media and Public Humanities Postdoctoral Fellow, The Toronto Star ) -- 2020 is a dizzying horror show, complete with hauntings and dread of a dystopian future

This October, I’m reminding myself that the fear is there for a reason. These are abnormal, historically unprecedented times. No one has any idea what’s going to happen and we can’t change the channel. It’s OK to be scared. Our fear is there for a reason — it reminds us that we’re normal, when the world around us seems anything but.