Wednesday, June 10, 2015

How to Advocate for the Liberal Arts: the State-University Edition

The Chronicle of Higher Education
June 8th, 2015


As grantsmanship is to STEM fields, advocacy must become for the liberal arts, if a broad-based humanistic education is to remain part of the public university. Those of us in the liberal arts are generally spared the relentless grind of grant applications that keep the lights on and the doors open in the sciences — but we also get less practice in explaining what we do and why it ought to be funded. That needs to change.
It’s not enough for us as faculty members to continue to work as usual and hope that the decline in support for the liberal arts will reverse itself. No matter how excellently those of us in the liberal arts do our research, teaching, and service, the value of our work is being edged out of public higher education.
Many of us wring our hands at that reality and say, "I can’t do anything about declining state funding and rising tuition, and I already have too much to do." Maybe so. But some academics want to know what can be done, so here are some ideas. Some of them may not apply to small colleges, private universities, or two-year institutions, but we can start here.

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