Tuesday, May 31, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily


Humanities Essential to 'Distinctly American' Education, Says Commission

While some critics of American higher education have called for greater emphasis on particular skills and career preparation, a new federally funded report strongly endorses study of the humanities and social sciences. Such disciplines are often at the heart of traditional core requirements of Catholic colleges.

As reported by The Chronicle of Higher Education:

The report, "The Heart of the Matter," was produced by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, a blue-ribbon panel that was formed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences...

...The commission's 54 members include scholars in the humanities and social sciences, as well as scientists, engineers, business executives, philanthropists, and artists.

The report's authors describe the humanities as essential to a "distinctly American form of education" that appreciates "the interdependence of all areas of knowledge," echoing Blessed John Henry Newman's argument in Idea of a University.

We live in a nation that has been built—thought by thought, discovery by discovery—on a foundation of humanistic and social-scientific scholarship, from our founding rooted in Enlightenment philosophy to a future informed by the compilation and analysis of Big Data.

In addition to recommendations for federal taxpayer support for such things as graduate fellowships and cross-cultural studies, the report seeks changes in American colleges and universities, the Chronicle reports:

...They fault a tendency among scholars to be too inward-facing with their research, an attitude that leads, they write, to "academic self-enclosure."

"If scholars in the broad humanistic disciplines expect the public to be more financially supportive," the authors write, "they must make the case for the public value of their work much more effectively than they have in recent years."

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