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Survey on American Attitudes on the Humanities

Elizabeth Redden
Inside Higher Ed

Just over half (56 percent) of Americans agree strongly with the statement that “the humanities should be an important part of every American’s education,” while 38 percent “somewhat agreed” with the statement, according to a new survey of 5,015 American adults from the Humanities Indicators Project of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences.

The survey found differences in attitudes across educational levels, political ideologies, and gender. While 68 percent of college graduates strongly agree that the humanities should be an important part of every American’s education, just 47 percent of people without a college degree do. Liberals (70 percent) are more likely than conservatives (48 percent) to strongly agree the humanities are important. Women (60 percent) are also more likely than men (52 percent) to see the humanities as being an important part of every American’s education.

The survey also found that 78 percent of Americans wish they had taken more courses in at least one humanities-related subject in school. Nearly half (49 percent) wish they’d taken more classes in languages other than English.

Eighty-one percent of respondents said they regularly use at least one humanities-related skill in the workplace, and 29 percent of respondents said they think their career advancement has been “at least partially impaired” by a deficiency in at least one humanities-related skill.

The survey also asked Americans about their engagement with humanities-related content in their daily lives, through such activities as consumption of humanities-related video or audio programming, reading fiction and nonfiction books, researching humanities-related topics online, visiting museums, and attending poetry readings and other cultural events. While 97 percent of respondents engaged at least sometimes in at least one humanities-related activity over the last year, a majority of those surveyed did not engage in any single activity often or very often.

View full story: Inside Higher Ed



Humanities Indicators

Norman Marshall Bradburn and Robert B. Townsend