Note on the Definition of Faculty and on the Classification of Disciplines



For the purposes of the Humanities Indicators (HI), a faculty member is defined as an employee of a two-year or four-year college or a university who teaches credit-earning courses and who may also perform research activities. Faculty thus include not only individuals who have faculty status in their institutions but also those who are classified as instructional staff. Faculty exclude those individuals whose duties are purely research oriented (even though such individuals may be classified as faculty by their institutions).

Classification of Academic Disciplines

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the collector of the data on which Indicators III-9a through III-9i are based (“Number of Humanities Faculty Members” and “Number of Faculty Members in Humanities Disciplines”), sorts postsecondary faculty by academic discipline, using a scheme that includes six humanities-related categories. Five of these have been combined by the HI for the purposes of estimating humanities faculty employment. They include:

  • English Language and Literature
  • Foreign Languages and Literatures
  • History
  • Philosophy and Religion
  • Area, Ethnic, and Cultural Studies

A sixth BLS category, Arts, Drama, and Music, does not distinguish between faculty who teach the academic study of the arts (treated by the HI as a humanities activity) and those who teach studio and performing arts. Consequently, faculty teaching the history and criticism of the fine arts and film are not included in the estimate of the number of humanities faculty.

The National Study of Postsecondary Faculty (NSOPF), the source of the data for the other indicators in this section, conceptualizes the humanities somewhat more narrowly than does the HI, including only those individuals teaching English language and literature, languages other than English, history, philosophy, and religion. Additionally, the NSOPF treats computer science as a natural science (the HI considers this discipline to be part of the engineering field and classifies it as such for the purposes of the other indicators).

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