Data Forum

Assessing the Humanities


The Academy’s Humanities Indicators takes a holistic view of the field, offering data that extend from early reading to children to older individuals’ visits to museums and historic sites. Marking the start of the 2016 National Humanities Conference, the Indicators released several updates about the public humanities this morning, describing the financial condition of key humanities institutions (state humanities councils, state library agencies, public libraries, and higher education). Alongside earlier reports that showed declines in time spent reading, as well as visits to public libraries and historic sites, these new analyses paints a picture of the humanities in the U.S. as having great vibrancy but also as facing challenges.

While the tracking of these data provides a big picture perspective on the infrastructure of the humanities, it offers only limited insight into the day-to-day experience of these institutions and the humanities in public life. The Humanities and Liberal Arts Assessment project (HULA) points to another way of looking at activity in the field, and tries to do so using humanistic approaches and tools. In a forum essay, the HULA team (Danielle Allen, Maggie Schein, Christopher Pupik Dean, and David Kidd) describes its work, which start in the education sector but are now being extended to public humanities projects.

Read the HULA team's essay, Assessment in the Humanities




Humanities Indicators

Norman Marshall Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend