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Oh dear… (From the NYT)

Mr. Freeland is part of what he calls a revolutionary movement to close the “chasm in higher education between the liberal arts and sciences and professional programs.” The Association of American Colleges and Universities recently issued a report arguing the humanities should abandon the “old Ivory Tower view of liberal education” and instead emphasize its practical and economic value.


As money tightens, the humanities may increasingly return to being what they were at the beginning of the last century, when only a minuscule portion of the population attended college: namely, the province of the wealthy.

That may be unfortunate but inevitable, Mr. Kronman said. The essence of a humanities education — reading the great literary and philosophical works and coming “to grips with the question of what living is for” — may become “a great luxury that many cannot afford.”

All of this puts one in a tough spot, no? The humanities are good career preparation, but this is mostly or especially true for careers that kids who go to elite schools get: academia, the arts, marketing, law, consulting, etc. But on the other hand – well, fuck career preparation, there are other things in life. On the, um, third hand: that’s easy enough for me to say, way easy for me to say.

What do you think? What do you think we should do?

Written by adswithoutproducts

February 27, 2009 at 10:05 pm

Posted in academia

3 Responses

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  1. I think on-site experience will always count more. And even in some cases, I know peers who intentionally leave their Master’s degree off their resumes to better there chances of landing a job (probably a job they are over qualified for, but that’s how it is these days). My degrees aren’t working all that hard for me right now, that’s for sure.


    February 27, 2009 at 10:58 pm

  2. The question for me remains a political question: that is, does the kind of thinking allowed, supported and produced within the University provide a possible route toward substantial social change and less long-term immiseration? The Greek students in Exarchia suggest to me it does — the sleep of many students elsewhere augurs worse. But I refuse to let the debate be framed otherwise, even by the liberal-guilt bludgeons that come down to “who are you to stand between youths and productive labor?” I enjoin you never to let a desolate economy be an excuse for abandoning politics. It will just encourage those who desolate economies.


    February 27, 2009 at 11:35 pm

  3. Candice,

    Well, yes… That’s right I think.


    Oh I know. I agree. Down deep, I’m more worried about a) getting them to show up for enlightenment in the first place and b) whether we have anything all that valuable to tell them, given the current state of intellectual play.


    February 28, 2009 at 8:59 am

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