A future for the humanities?
Two interesting reports have just been published about the humanities. The first is a report jointly commissioned in Ireland by the Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) and the Higher Education Authority – though curiously neither body has any reference to it on their websites (the HEA site rather charmingly suggested that my search was unsuccessful but might work better if I used the key words ‘blue smurf’). However, according to a report in the Irish Independent, it recommends that student should receive a ‘more rounded’ education by ensuring that both science and humanities elements are present in all degree programmes. This would also give a boost to the creative industries, which may turn out to be particularly significant in the next phase of economic development.
The second report (in the UK) is by the Sutton Trust, which is an education charity. According to a survey carried out by the Trust, a larger proportion of students in subjects like history and philosophy are the children of people from wealthier backgrounds. This may be due to the fact that people from poorer backgrounds prefer a degree that is more closely aligned with a particular career or vocation, but the consequence may turn out to be that humanities subjects will become the preserve of the wealthy, and by the same token of universities that themselves are better resourced.
Both of these reports suggest that it is now urgent that we have a clearer strategy for the humanities, both in their more traditional setting and in some of the newer interdisciplinary models. It seems to me that a system in which the humanities are kept apart from science and engineering, and where they are seen as something best suited to the well off, is not a good one. It is time to act before that becomes a reality.Explore posts in the same categories: higher education
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