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Should US politicians be cutting humanities courses?

Should US politicians be cutting humanities courses?

Times Higher Education

Paul Basken
October 12, 2023
Ebonee Rice-Nguyen constantly hears the talk, even from her friends.
A senior majoring in English at the University of Pittsburgh, Rice-Nguyen comes from Tyrone, about two hours to the east. It’s one of many small Pennsylvania towns struggling after the decline of their manufacturing glory days. In her high school’s graduating class of 120, only about half went on to a four-year college or university.
At Pitt – a leading public research institution – Rice-Nguyen has friends and classmates majoring in the sciences who expect jobs that pay $90,000 (£70,000) or better right after they graduate. She is less confident about her own prospects, but she does derive “some comfort” from data showing that humanities majors typically do well, too, at least later in their careers. “I look into those [data] every time I get a little stressed out,” she confesses.
The anxiety among US college students such as Rice-Nguyen appears to be widespread and growing. As the nation’s caustic partisan attitudes coarsen and spread into the world of higher education, one of the emerging ideological divides with particularly acute real-world implications is that between the left’s ongoing valuation of traditional liberal arts majors and the right’s inclination to much more aggressively promote job-centric training.
Increasingly, US conservatives with underlying hostilities towards the mission and atmosphere of higher education are latching on to the idea that its operations and components should be judged on the basis of their demonstrable contribution to what they regard as career success: high-paying jobs. And a growing number of conservatives are suggesting the direct use of government money and power to bring that about.
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