The liberal arts and humanities are in jeopardy right now at colleges and universities. Schools are cutting programs and firing professors in these fields. Spring Arbor University in Michigan just canned one of its best professors. Liberty University and Southwest Baptist University closed their philosophy departments. Gordon College cut its history major and then brought it back. The University of Tulsa dropped degree programs in philosophy, religion, and Russian and Chinese studies. The University of Providence ended programs in art, English, history, sociology, and theology. Missouri Western State University is phasing out programs in history, philosophy, and religion.
In Australia, fees for history courses will rise by 113 % to encourage students to enroll in STEM fields.
Meanwhile, we know that those who study the liberal arts and humanities are less likely to support authoritarian attitudes. I recently made the case that we need the liberal arts more than ever in our current pandemic moment. Earlier this year the president of the University of British Columbia said that education without liberal arts is a “threat to humanity.” The president of Bates College made a compelling case for the liberal arts in her 2017 commencement address. Historian Johann Neem argues that we cannot “think critically” without knowledge.
I know that there are a lot of Americans who have benefited from a liberal arts education. If you are one of these Americans, or if you are a parent with a child who benefited from such an education, I encourage you to write a letter to your college or university president.
What should you put in such a letter?
Tell your story (or the story of your child). Write about how the study of the liberal arts transformed your life and made you a better citizen, community member, or person of faith. If you are parent, write about how your money was well spent.
College administrators are still making tough decisions about the future of the liberal arts and humanities at their institutions and your input is needed. I encourage you to do this even if there are no immediate plans to make cuts in these areas. Presidents and provosts need to know that programs in these areas are making a difference in the lives of their graduates.
Consider Adrian College, a liberal arts college in Michigan. When the college started cutting humanities and liberal arts programs, students and alumni took action and the president reversed the cuts.
Write that letter today! (And please share this post on your blogs and social media pages).