Economist and former dean at Princeton Christina Paxson has written an interesting article for the New Republic, “The Economic Case for Saving the Humanities.” Therein she asks if the humanities are “worth it” economically and argues that
support for the humanities is more than worth it. It is essential. . . . It is really important we get this right. A mountain of empirical evidence indicates a growing inequality in our society. There is no better way to check this trend than to invest in education. And there is no better way to invest in education than to invest fairly, giving attention to all disciplines and short shrift to none.
Even though many of us may take Paxson’s argument wholly for granted already–that those of us who think about the issue a bit realize that of course the humanities have significant bearing on economics–the threats to the humanities largely boil down to their perceived lack of economic viability. If this perception can be combated, we may see other criticisms fall away.
From the National Humanities Alliance website:
The House of Representatives Appropriations Committee released its FY 2014 Interior and Environment Appropriations bill this morning with a 49 percent ($71 million) cut for the National Endowment for the Humanities. If enacted, this funding level would devastate an agency that has already been reduced by 19 percent since 2010.
This drastic cut would end programs that provide critical support for humanities teaching, preservation, public programming, and research, and result in positive impacts on every community in the country. Programs supported by the NEH teach essential skills and habits including reading, writing, critical thinking, and effective communication that are crucial for ensuring that each individual has the opportunity to learn and become a productive member of society. Further, NEH’s programs strengthen communities by promoting understanding of our common ideals, enduring civic values, and shared cultural heritage.
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