Conservative pundit and First Things senior editor Mark Bauerlein seems to have discovered that the number of history majors in the United States is in steep decline:
Here is a link to the 2021 piece he references.
The low number of history majors is a serious problem. At my home institution, the number of history majors has dropped drastically in the last two decades. When I arrived at Messiah University we had about 100 majors. We now have around 30 or 40 majors. Heck, we don’t even have a history department any more.
After I saw Bauerlein’s tweet, I noticed another tweet by Miles Smith IV, a member of the history department at Hillsdale University:
I don’t think I am conservative enough to teach at a place like Hillsdale (nor do I think they would have me), but I am envious of Hillsdale. Some might say Hillsdale attracts so many history majors because it is committed to a conservative or traditional vision of the liberal arts. There is probably a lot of truth to this. Kids from conservative families or Christian school families or homeschool families are often more attracted to history than those who have not had classical training in their K-12 experience. I am sure some critics of Hillsdale will immediately say that Hillsdale doesn’t teach the history of marginalized groups and focuses too much on “Western Civilization” with an emphasis on great white men. Again, this might be a fair critique. But wouldn’t it be nice to have more students in your classrooms. And more majors?
But perhaps Hillsdale is having success attracting history majors because the administration at Hillsdale is committed to and invested in the humanities. Would this kind of investment in the humanities work at a school that was not as culturally conservative as Hillsdale? I don’t know. But it’s certainly worth a try.
Nadya Wiilliams makes an excellent point here. Check out the link in her Tweet: