Thursday, February 24, 2011

Commission on the Humanities - Helping Philosophy?

A new blue-ribbon commission has been assembled in a bid to put the humanities and social sciences on an equal footing on the public agenda with science, technology, engineering and mathematics.The commission's effort to bolster the humanities and social sciences also takes place amid hard times for those disciplines.  The commission’s 41 members represent a broad range of disciplines and backgrounds, including Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of philosophy at Princeton University.
 Will this help philosophy by creating more positions?

The goal of the commission, the public officials wrote, is “to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century.”
In her remarks on Thursday, Berlowitz cited other dire data from the academy's humanities indicators, including a 46 percent decline over the past 30 years in the number of humanities degrees conferred as a proportion of all bachelor’s degrees. In addition, more than half of all students graduating from American high schools in 2006 could not demonstrate basic knowledge of history; over a third lacked basic knowledge of civics, she said.
Berlowitz argued that the relative decline of the humanities over the past half-century occurred as higher education became more widely available to larger swaths of the population, many of whom wanted to be sure the investment would pay off in the form of a first job. Careerism crept into the vocabulary of academe, and business degrees grew to become the most popular major.

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