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The Decline of English Majors in Universities

Core Concepts
The author argues that the decline in English majors is a result of societal changes and financial pressures, impacting the traditional liberal arts education model.
The content discusses the significant decrease in English majors at universities, particularly focusing on Arizona State University. The decline is part of a broader trend affecting humanities enrollment across various institutions. Factors such as economic pressures, shifting student interests, and technological advancements are highlighted as contributing to this decline. The author explores the implications of this trend on higher education and questions the future of liberal arts education in a rapidly changing world.
From 2012 to the start of the pandemic, English majors at Arizona State University fell from 953 to 578. Women’s studies lost eighty per cent of its majors. A.S.U. has an undergraduate admission rate of eighty-eight per cent. Humanities enrollment in the United States has declined by seventeen per cent. Columbia University saw English majors fall from ten per cent to five per cent between 2002 and 2020.
"It’s hard for students like me, who are pursuing an English major, to find joy in what they’re doing." - Meg Macias "You get what you pay for!" - James Shapiro

Key Insights Distilled From

by Cond... at 03-06-2023
The End of the English Major

Deeper Inquiries

What role does technology play in shaping students' interests and educational choices?

Technology has significantly influenced students' interests and educational decisions. The rise of digital platforms, smartphones, and the internet has provided a vast array of information at students' fingertips, leading to shorter attention spans and decreased engagement with traditional forms of literature. Students now spend more time on social media, websites, and podcasts rather than reading novels or engaging with classic texts. This shift in behavior has impacted their academic pursuits as well; many are drawn towards fields like data science or computer science due to the perceived job prospects in these areas compared to humanities disciplines.

How can universities adapt their programs to meet changing student demands while preserving traditional disciplines?

To address changing student demands while maintaining traditional disciplines, universities can implement interdisciplinary programs that blend humanities subjects with practical skills relevant to today's job market. For example, incorporating elements of language studies into business courses or integrating literature analysis into data science programs can attract a wider range of students while still offering exposure to foundational knowledge. Additionally, universities should emphasize the transferable skills gained from studying humanities such as critical thinking, communication, and cultural understanding which are highly valued by employers across various industries.

In what ways can society benefit from a diverse range of academic pursuits beyond STEM fields?

A diverse range of academic pursuits beyond STEM fields is crucial for fostering well-rounded individuals who possess a broad skill set essential for addressing complex societal challenges. Humanities disciplines like English literature and history provide insights into human experiences throughout history, promoting empathy and cultural awareness among individuals. Moreover, these fields encourage creativity, critical thinking, and effective communication skills that are vital for innovation and problem-solving in any profession. By supporting a balanced education system that values both STEM and humanities subjects equally society can cultivate individuals who are not only proficient in technical areas but also possess the ability to think critically about ethical issues engage with diverse perspectives collaborate effectively across different domains.