Just because MFA Day Job wants to highlight writers who work outside of academia doesn’t mean that the academy isn’t in our peripheral vision. A recent Harvard University report, as summarized by The Chronicle of Higher Education, weighs in on the declining numbers of humanities majors in universities, and what humanists might do to improve those numbers. Among the recommendations: don’t avoid conversations about employment with humanities students, and refocus classes on student skills rather than on getting through a falsely exhaustive canon of works. As a former undergraduate who would have been happy to major in 19th century novels and popcorn (both for their own sake), I’m still happy to see the report supporting the educational philosophy that made this website seem like a good idea:
The report rightly rejects the claim that the humanities are worth studying for their own sake, with no regard for vocational opportunities. It is indeed disconcerting when tenured faculty members, enjoying a job security found nowhere else in the work force, urge students, undergraduate or graduate, not to worry about finding employment. The point is not to turn humanities education into a vocational-training program but to recognize that the competencies acquired in the study of the humanities are transferable to a wide range of careers. Humanists should embrace that argument.