I suspect it will take more than buildings
College leaders work to increase interest in humanities
At college campuses around the world, the humanities are hurting. Students are flocking to majors more closely linked to their career ambitions. Grant money and philanthropy are flowing to the sciences. And university presidents are worried about the future of subjects once at the heart of a liberal arts education.
In response, the leaders of many prestigious universities — including Cornell, Dartmouth, and Harvard — are increasingly espousing the virtues of the humanities in speeches on campus and abroad. Some are pledging to spend more money beefing up their literature and arts departments; others have begun erecting buildings dedicated solely to the besieged disciplines.
“If, because of cutbacks and lack of support from the federal government, literature and the arts and other aspects of the humanities become just parlor musings of the wealthy, we would have made a huge mistake,’’ Dartmouth’s president, Dr. Jim Yong Kim, said in an interview. “Literature and the arts should not only be for kids who go to cotillion balls to make polite conversation at parties.’’
Among the universities attempting to restore interest in the humanities is Brandeis, which recently dedicated a new $22.5 million glass-and-slate hilltop home for the em battled subjects, called the Mandel Center for the Humanities.