New data from the American Academy of Arts & Sciences found dramatic changes over time in the number of humanities professors being hired on college campuses.
Listings for humanities faculty positions are down more than 30% since 2008. They were either steady or increasing prior to the 2007-2008 school year, the data show. Conversely, there has been a 111% increase in the number of health science faculty positions since 1999.
- English, history and foreign languages positions saw steepest drops, but doctoral recipients in history reported greater job opportunities when programs balanced research and teaching preparation.
As financial rightsizing at colleges and universities nationwide continues to claim programs with low enrollment and limited industrial connectivity, adjunct and new faculty appointments are an obvious casualty of the budget tightening process.
But English, foreign languages and history continue to see synergy with popular career choices such as foreign affairs, law and education; pairing these majors with concentrations which translate to graduate school admission and entry-level pipelines in today’s job market will be key to maintaining the liberal arts mission for many mid-sized public and private institutions.
While faculty positions may continue to disappear, recalibrating these programs for online delivery and continuing education may be an alternative to traditional undergraduate program offerings. Additionally, matching humanities programs with nonprofit and federal funding sources for arts enhancement or sociological infusion with STEM initiatives, may prove to be a road to attracting funding that supports the retention, or growth, of faculty in these areas.