Surveying the Humanities

As the data documenting the widespread decline in humanities majors and enrollments sinks in, we are reaching out to the higher ed community to learn more about challenges to recruiting students to the humanities and strategies for overcoming them. Working to attract more students to the humanities on your campus? Have ideas about how to navigate the challenges involved? Please take our survey and share your perspective! 

This refined survey builds on lessons learned from a pilot survey we launched last summer. We heard a great deal of consensus regarding misconceptions concerning the practical value of humanities education—which our Study the Humanities toolkit provides resources to address. And we learned about how different types of institutions experience these challenges differently. We collected some compelling strategies humanities faculty and administrators are employing to help change these perceptions, including outreach to admitted students and a diverse range of programs designed to highlight humanities majors’ marketable skills. We also discovered that many are hungry for more ideas about how to connect with a wide variety of audiences, including institutional collaborators (e.g., career services, admissions, upper administrators), external partners (e.g. alumni, local business leaders), and potential future students—and the parents and guidance counselors who advise them. 

Now, we are reaching out to a much broader sample of faculty and administrators to collect even more strategies. We’ve taken pains to ensure that the full range of types of institutions—including community colleges, minority-serving institutions, regional comprehensive universities, and liberal arts colleges—are appropriately represented. Questions have been streamlined based on results from the first two surveys, making them easier to answer while yielding more precise and usable data. And we’ve added questions to better understand patterns across particular types of institutions and distinct perspectives within institutions. 

Meanwhile, we have also reached out to scholarly societies with another survey to learn about all they are doing to promote their disciplines to various audiences. We heard much the same about widespread concerns about job prospects and misconceptions regarding the humanities, while learning about the distinct challenges and opportunities facing different disciplines. And we gathered additional strategies for overcoming these challenges, from equipping departments with resources to help them advocate for themselves to staging national academic competitions to generate enthusiasm for humanities disciplines before students arrive on campus. But again, we also heard many saying they could use help figuring out how to reach specific audiences and better support their members’ recruitment efforts.

In the coming months, we will be sharing the compelling strategies we’ve identified with the humanities community. We hope you’ll take a moment to tell us about relevant efforts on your campus and pass along the survey to colleagues who may have strategies to share. 

Here’s a shortened link to the survey to send or copy to into your browser:

Read more:

Study the Humanities