Holding On to What Makes Us Human

Policy makers and the public view the purpose of college as purely vocational, and see humanistic inquiry — the study of literature, the arts, history, anthropology, philosophy — as a waste of time and money.

In these circumstances, what do we do? Does it even matter? ...

Let us resist perishing. But if we must perish, let us perish resisting. This should be our credo as humanists in the 21st century. We must not concede to the actuarial ethos of the corporatized university that reduces all discussions of value to questions of profit and loss. Economic arguments for the value of a humanistic education will not save the humanities, and we should stop making them. The value of the humanities as the heart of a university education does not lie primarily in ‘transferrable skills’ nor in the ‘critical thinking’ that employers presumably want. Instead, a core education in the humanities gives students the intellectual space to grapple with questions of enduring importance. The value of knowing how humankind has tackled those questions and taking part in that endeavor can never be measured in dollars and cents alone.
— L.D. Burnett