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The Humanities, Arts, and Education

Looking Beyond Earnings as a Measure of the Humanities

At a time of rising college debt and efforts to assign value to a college education in dollars, the humanities often find themselves on the defensive. In an effort to clarify these issues, the Humanities Indicators released new information today on the employment and earnings of humanities graduates in 2013. While the findings show that humanities majors often lag behind graduates from other fields in earnings, on average they earn considerably more than Americans without college degrees and often gain ground on graduates from other fields with additional experience and additional study.

Critics of the Humanities Indicators note that the numbers may respond to the prevailing questions, but they also facilitate the notion that numbers are the best way to measure the worth of a humanities education. For a fuller perspective on this concern, Christine Hensler (Professor and Chair of Modern Languages and Literatures at Union College) assesses a few of the issues left out of the numbers.

October 2, 2015

To Data or Not To Data: Capturing the Humanities in Motion

posted by Christine Henseler

When the Humanities Indicators project began, its goal was to provide systematic and coordinated, reliable and usable data on the health of the humanities similar to the measurements advanced by the Science and Engineering Indicators. Because this data did not exist for the humanities before 2002, they would be used to convey the significance of what the humanities do, their importance for the national well-being, and their status and current condition.1 In other words, the goal of this project by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences was to help mobilize the humanities.    More... 

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