Press Review: Articulating the Value of Undergraduate Humanities Education for Confronting the Crises of the Moment
Our Study the Humanities toolkit includes collections of compelling articles published in popular publications on the value of the humanities, offering humanities advocates a set of ready-made, accessible arguments to share with prospective students and those who influence their decision-making. We update these article collections periodically, taking stock of trends in coverage of undergraduate humanities education in the popular press.
This summer we delved into recruitment strategies featured in our new report, Strategies for Recruiting Students to the Humanities: A Comprehensive Resource, through a four-part webinar series. Each virtual event explored a range of approaches featured within a particular chapter of the report: (1) Articulating Career Pathways, (2) Curricular Innovations, (3) Cultivating a Marketing Mindset, and (4) Fostering Humanities Identity and Community. Panelists representing a wide range of institutions and roles shared how they built successful programs, distilled lessons they learned along the way, and answered questions from the audience. Check out the event page for a full list of presenters.
Advising staff are key allies in recruitment; after all, they are the ones who help students select their courses and major/minor(s). The history department at the University of Oklahoma has shown how professional advisors can make a significant impact on recruitment far beyond their 1:1 advising responsibilities.
After a decade of widespread decline in humanities majors and enrollments and in the face of formidable new pressures precipitated by the COVID-19 pandemic, the need for effective humanities recruitment strategies has never been clearer. Fortunately, humanists across the country have been busy innovating new approaches to attract more students to the humanities that others can learn from. Our new report, Strategies for Recruiting Students to the Humanities: A Comprehensive Resource, launched at the 2021 NHA Annual Meeting in March, presents a wide menu of strategies for faculty and administrators to draw upon as they work to boost humanities majors and enrollments.
Each October, we celebrate National Arts and Humanities Month by calling attention to the many ways humanities research, teaching, and programs serve students and communities across the country.
We recently hosted a two-part webinar entitled Making the Case for Studying the Humanities in a Time of Crisis. For more than a year now, we’ve been researching the field of undergraduate humanities recruitment, identifying compelling initiatives, effective strategies, and leaders in the field. We gathered six of those leaders—three deans followed by three humanities center directors—to discuss how the pandemic, severely strained budgets, and the national reckoning with racial injustice are changing the context in which they work to attract more students to the humanities.
Our recent Humanities Recruitment Survey (HRS) revealed a consensus among faculty and administrators across institution types that “student concerns about job prospects” is the most influential challenge to attracting undergraduates to the humanities. Over the past year, we’ve been updating the career outcomes data in our Study the Humanities toolkit and collecting effective strategies for articulating career pathways for humanities students. Anticipating that student anxieties will weigh even heavier amidst the economic fallout of the pandemic, we’ve been reaching out to leaders in this field to understand how they are adapting. Kirstin Wilcox, founding director of the University of Illinois’ Humanities Professional Resource Center (HPRC), offered her take.
As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to threaten and disrupt our lives, we look toward an uncertain future for higher education. However the crisis unfolds, it seems clear that our society will need humanities education more than ever, but securing support for it will be even more difficult in the face of enormous financial challenges. We must reverse the decline in humanities majors and enrollments to preserve humanities education and prepare students to tackle the complex challenges we face.
We are looking forward to kicking off this year’s NHA Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day with a deep dive into undergraduate recruitment strategies. We’ll begin by sharing what we learned about recruitment challenges at nearly 300 diverse institutions through our 2019 Humanities Recruitment Survey, as well as the audiences faculty and administrators are engaging with to overcome these challenges. Next, we’ll showcase categories and subcategories of effective approaches surfaced through this research and associated outreach—including articulating career pathways, curricular innovations, and marketing strategies. Participants will work together to develop strategies after hearing leaders of noteworthy initiatives reflect upon their experiences.