On Stanford University’s sprawling campus, where a long palm-lined drive leads to manicured quads, humanities professors produce highly regarded scholarship on Renaissance French literature and the philosophy of language.
They have generous compensation, stunning surroundings and access to the latest technology and techniques of scholarship. The only thing they lack is students: Some 45 percent of the faculty members in Stanford’s main undergraduate division are clustered in the humanities — but only 15 percent of the students.
With Stanford’s reputation in technology, it is no wonder that computer science is the university’s most popular major, and that there are no longer any humanities programs among the top five. But with the recession having helped turn college, in the popular view, into largely a tool for job preparation, administrators are concerned.
“We have 11 humanities departments that are quite extraordinary, and we want to provide for that faculty,” said Richard Shaw, Stanford’s dean of admission and financial aid.
Written By: Tamar Lewin
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