Is There a "Crisis" in the Humanities?

Dr. Mary Rizzo, Public Historian in Residence at the Mid-Atlantic Regional Center for the Humanities (MARCH) at Rutgers-Camden, discussed the “crisis” in the humanities on WAMC radio’s Ideas Matter segment on Friday, December 6, 2013.

While there have been a spate of editorials, opinion pieces, and blog posts about a “crisis” in the humanities recently, Rizzo argues that they focus exclusively on higher education, ignoring the public humanities. Even within the university, research suggests that the crisis in terms of humanities enrollments is overblown. The public humanities, however, are in a real crisis as funding sources, especially from the federal and state governments, disappear. Today, for example, the funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities is approximately the cost of a postage stamp per U.S. citizen. Because we do not recognize the breadth of organizations and programs that fall under the public humanities, we are unfortunately unaware of this crisis and its effects. While public humanities organizations have championed civic engagement efforts, they must fight against an image of the humanities as elitist in order to create a broad base of support.

Listen to the full segment here.

Ideas Matter is a collaboration between seven state humanities councils: Connecticut Humanities, Mass Humanities, the New Hampshire Humanities Council, the New Jersey Council for the Humanities, the New York Council for the Humanities, the Pennsylvania Humanities Council, and the Vermont Humanities Council.