Undernews is the online report of the Progressive Review, edited by Sam Smith, who covered Washington during all or part of one quarter of America's presidencies and edited alternative journals since 1964. The Review, which has been on the web since 1995, is now published from Freeport, Maine. See main page for full contents

September 23, 2009


William M. Chace, American Scholar - With more than twice the majors of any other course of study, business has become the concentration of more than one in five American undergraduates. Here is how the numbers have changed from 1970/71 to 2003/04 (the last academic year with available figures):

English: from 7.6 percent of the majors to 3.9 percent
Foreign languages and literatures: from 2.5 percent to 1.3 percent
Philosophy and religious studies: from 0.9 percent to 0.7 percent
History: from 18.5 percent to 10.7 percent
Business: from 13.7 percent to 21.9 percent

In one generation, then, the numbers of those majoring in the humanities dropped from a total of 30 percent to a total of less than 16 percent; during that same generation, business majors climbed from 14 percent to 22 percent. . .

Although many public institutions have had an interest in teaching the humanities, their prime role has always rested elsewhere: in engineering, research science, and the applied disciplines (agriculture, mining, viniculture, veterinary medicine, oceanography). By contrast, private schools have until now been the most secure home of the humanities. But today even some liberal arts colleges are offering fewer courses in the liberal arts and more courses that are “practical.” With their ascendancy, the presiding ethos of public institutions-fortified by the numbers of majors and faculty, and by the amounts of money involved-has come to exert a more and more powerful thrust in American higher education. The result? The humanities, losing the national numbers game, find themselves moving to the periphery of American higher education.


Anonymous wellbasically said...

Engineering has also lost out to business. Both are the result of an elite culture which downgrades the importance of work and creation in favor of dealing. The high-flown academic theories which degraded the author are just a result of universities trying to serve the market, by providing people who can tolerate the mush that such a culture produces.

September 24, 2009 12:40 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


September 26, 2009 9:33 PM  

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