Monday 29 November 2010

Campaign for the Public University

DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES urges all of its own, UK-based, supporters and readers to join the recently established Campaign for the Public University:

The UK Campaign for the Public University is open to all. It is a broad-based campaign with no party or other political affiliation. It has been initiated by a group of university teachers and graduate students seeking to defend and promote the idea of the university as a public good. We believe that the public university is essential both for cultivating democratic public life and creating the means for individuals to find fulfillment in creative and intellectual pursuits regardless of whether or not they pursue a degree programme.

To visit the website of the Campaign for the Public University, please click here.
To join the email list for Campaign for the Public University, please click here.
To join the Facebook Group for the Campaign for the Public University, please click here.
To join the
Campaign for the Public University on Twitter, please click here.
As the Campaign writes:
A vote enabling an increase in tuition fees is to take place before Christmas. The issue is not just fees, but also the withdrawal of public funding from social sciences, arts and humanities, and the reduction of public spending on higher education such that it will become lower than that for comparator OECD countries.
     LibDem MPs are able to abstain under the Coalition agreement, but abstention will simply allow the measure to be passed and so is, in effect, tacit support. If your MP is a LibDem MP, please point this out when you write. Labour MPs, of course, will be expected to vote against, but some Conservative MPs are also very unhappy with the proposals and so it is important that all MPs are contacted.
     This link provides a simple process by which you can find out who your MP is and send him or her an email via the site.
For a sample letter template please see here.

'Cut the Shock Doctrine': More from Culture Machine

The online journal Culture Machine continues to debate on the future of higher education in the UK and internationally, and on the position of the arts, humanities and social sciences within the university. Five new contributions have just been added to the Culture Machine InterZone section:

More contributions to follow.

If you still want to join the debate, email your all contribution to Gary Hall at <>, remembering to include your full name and academic affiliation (if any). If, for institutional or other reasons, you would prefer to have your piece published anonymously, we would be happy to accommodate this.

All contributions will be reviewed by the Editorial Board on a rolling basis, with those accepted for publication being made immediately available on the Culture Machine site.

Thursday 25 November 2010

Storm Breaking Upon the University

"The defense of public universities is intricately tied to arguments that can establish the public value of the humanities. We need to get beyond the hand-wringing of those who believe only philistines require the humanities to be justified just as much as the meek reproduction of the government's own vocabularies of impact and value. We can and should remind the world that it is our classes that students want to take. Despite a decade of the rhetorical marginalization of our disciplines in the UK as not relevant there are more studying in the arts, humanities and social sciences (1,073,465 in 2008/9) than in the STEM [Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics] subjects (829,115) and they are growing at a faster rate (a 28% increase since 2001/2 as opposed to 20% increase for STEM). Indeed, in all likelihood, the arts, humanities and socials sciences are cross-subsidizing the more expensive STEM fields that teach fewer students in more resource heavy infrastructures and laboratories." [Read the rest of James Vernon's essay on 'The End of the Public University in England']

DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES hopes you will read the whole of the article 'The End of the Public University in England', an important opinion piece by James Vernon (Professor of History, University of California, Berkeley) at our sister website Storm Breaking Upon the University.

Wednesday 24 November 2010

Some DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES Campaign Images

Please feel free to use these images/e-posters in any way you feel would be useful. More will be posted soon. Leave comments below if you have any good quotations or slogans to suggest.

Thursday 18 November 2010

'The Death of the University, English Style' by Nick Couldry and Angela McRobbie

The Death of the University, English Style
Nick Couldry and Angela McRobbie

Something important died on 12 October 2010 [date of publication of The Browne Report]: the idea of the university in England.

Perhaps 'received its death warrant' would be more accurate than 'died'. For there are still some weeks left in which to challenge the fate that the Browne Report proposed for our university system. But that requires looking closely at the mechanisms Browne proposes.

The Browne Report says it's about funding 'a sustainable funding solution for the future' of higher education. It calls for more investment and offers a new mechanism for generating investment, by putting 'choice . . . in the hands of the students'.

Who could object to more, and better, choice for students? We certainly don't. That is why it is important to understand that the new funding mechanism Browne proposes is only very partially about choice.

Thus begins a short article by Couldry and McRobbie at the Culture Machine website. You read the rest of it here. It is the first in a proposed series on this topic to which anyone can contribute, as follows:

Culture Machine invites its readers to join in the debate called for by Couldry and McRobbie in 'The Death of the University, English Style'. We are seeking contributions in the form of short think pieces or micro-essays of 500-1000 words on any aspect of:

- the future of higher education in England and the UK;
- the position of the arts, humanities and social sciences within the university;
- the role and nature of the university in a democratic society.

Please email all contributions to Gary Hall at, remembering to include your full name and academic affiliation (if any). (If, for institutional or other reasons, you would prefer to have your piece published anonymously, we would be happy to accommodate this.)

All contributions will be reviewed by the Editorial Board on a rolling basis, with those accepted for publication being made immediately available on the Culture Machine site.

Nick Couldry is Professor of Media and Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London, His latest book is Why Voice Matters: Culture and Politics After Neoliberalism  (Sage, 2010).

Angela McRobbie is Professor of Communications at Goldsmiths, University of London. Her latest book is The Aftermath of Feminism (Sage, 2009).

Wednesday 17 November 2010

A Faustian bargain by Gregory A Petsko

File:Rembrandt, Faust.jpg
Faust, etching by Rembrandt (Een geleerde in zijn werkkamer Dry-point, etching, and engraving. 208 × 160 mm. Amsterdam, Rijksmuseum Amsterdam ca. 1652 (1650-1652)

The Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures (LLC) at the University at Albany, State University of New York, used to be able to say that it offered 10 languages with graduate degrees in French and Spanish, undergraduate degrees and minors in French, Italian, Russian and Spanish, and a minor in Portuguese. Additional languages available for study included Arabic, Dutch, classical Greek, German and Latin. But recently announced budget cuts mean saying goodbye to French, Italian, Russian, and classics, as well as theater.
In a statement on these cuts, the university's president, George M. Philip, indicated that the five departments will be phased out in the next two years due to more than $32 million in cuts from state funding the school has faced in the past three years (along with another $12 million decline anticipated this year). Students who are currently majoring in these areas will be permitted to complete their degrees. The move has caused dismay among faculty and students, who are continuing to campaign against the move.

On October 31, Gregory A. Petsko, of Rosenstiel Basic Medical Sciences Research Center, Brandeis University, published an open letter to George M Philip, President of the State University of New York At Albany. A short extract from the article in the journal Genome Biology is given below, but, like Stefan Collini's remarkable essay in the London Review of Books on the UK Browne Report, Petsko voices important arguments about why Arts and Humanities subjects ought to be defended, even, indeed especially, in these times of financial austerity:
As for the argument that the humanities don't pay their own way, well, I guess that's true, but it seems to me that there's a fallacy in assuming that a university should be run like a business. I'm not saying it shouldn't be managed prudently, but the notion that every part of it needs to be self-supporting is simply at variance with what a university is all about. You seem to value entrepreneurial programs and practical subjects that might generate intellectual property more than you do 'old-fashioned' courses of study. But universities aren't just about discovering and capitalizing on new knowledge; they are also about preserving knowledge from being lost over time, and that requires a financial investment. There is good reason for it: what seems to be archaic today can become vital in the future. I'll give you two examples of that. The first is the science of virology, which in the 1970s was dying out because people felt that infectious diseases were no longer a serious health problem in the developed world and other subjects, such as molecular biology, were much sexier. Then, in the early 1990s, a little problem called AIDS became the world's number 1 health concern. The virus that causes AIDS was first isolated and characterized at the National Institutes of Health in the USA and the Institute Pasteur in France, because these were among the few institutions that still had thriving virology programs. My second example you will probably be more familiar with. Middle Eastern Studies, including the study of foreign languages such as Arabic and Persian, was hardly a hot subject on most campuses in the 1990s. Then came September 11, 2001. Suddenly we realized that we needed a lot more people who understood something about that part of the world, especially its Muslim culture. Those universities that had preserved their Middle Eastern Studies departments, even in the face of declining enrollment, suddenly became very important places. Those that hadn't - well, I'm sure you get the picture.
The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:
© 2010 BioMed Central Ltd
[Thanks to AB for the link]

Saturday 13 November 2010

London Calling - a view from the USA

UCU (University and College Union) and NUS (National Union of Students) jointly organised a national demo, 'Fund Our Future: Stop Education Cuts' on Wednesday 10 November 2010, in central London.

DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES is very happy to republish the below article London Calling by Michael Meranze, Professor of History at UCLA since 2006. Meranze received his Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley and taught in the history department at the University of California, San Diego between 1989 and 2006. Between 1987 and 1989, he was an Assistant Professor of History at the College of William and Mary and a fellow of the Institute of Early American History and Culture. Meranze has received grants from the National Endowment for the Humanities and the American Council of Learned Societies among others.

The article was originally published by Remaking the University on November 1, 2010. Thanks to that website for allowing us to repost.

London calling to the imitation zone
Forget it, brother, an' go it alone
London calling upon the zombies of death
Quit holding out-and draw another breath

-- The Clash

If Albany’s language departments are the canaries in the coal mine of public education [the university is ending all admissions to programs in French, Italian, Russian, classics and Theater], the ongoing efforts to restructure higher education funding in [the UK] are the coal mine collapsing. As James Vernon and Stefan Collini have argued, the Browne Report and the Coalition Government’s Spending Priorities Review, if implemented, will mark an effective end of public higher education in England. England’s government is now proposing to shift the fiscal basis of higher education from the public to the individual student and enshrine the notion that higher education is primarily a private not a public good. Moreover, the Browne Report assumes drastic cutbacks, if not outright elimination, of public subsidies for teaching “non-priority” courses while maintaining some targeted support for STEM fields. Under the sign of fiscal necessity, Browne and the coalition government are attempting to subordinate higher education even more to the perceived short-term needs of business under the sign of appealing to the desires of students. Any notion of the centrality of the transmission of a critical tradition in higher education has been lost.

At the heart of the Browne report lie a series of assumptions. First, that public funding is, and must be, reduced in the higher education sector. Second, that the primary good to come out of higher education is a private one—the increase in economic earnings for graduates. Third, that while there is some public good in higher education, that public good resides primarily in ensuring that higher education ensures the adequate training of a sufficient number of people in certain strategic fields (primarily health care, STEM and some languages). And finally, that the success or failure of higher education is most convincingly displayed through its role in the comparative economic development of the nation.

The fundamental proposal of the Browne report is to shift funding from the government to the student. The Browne report envisions both a drastic reduction and redirection of public support: eliminating block grants to universities in the context of an overall decline in government funding of higher education. This loss of funding, the report admits, can only be compensated for by a substantial rise in tuition. Lord Browne, indeed, imagines that tuition in England will have to more than double simply to match the funds loss through government cutbacks. In reality there is no effective limit on the rise in tuition in the future. In order to make this possible, the Browne report proposes a simplified student loan system with the government making available loans upfront and graduates paying them back over a 30 year period at a fixed percentage (with certain thresholds, adjustments for inflation, and interest fees). Any money not paid back after 30 years (due to low income of the graduate) would be forgiven by the government. Browne rejects the notion of private funding for the loans because it is his aim to make the loans available to all students at a government controlled rate. Within certain limits, higher education would be run as a market powered by the indebtedness of students.

In return for higher tuition, students, Browne promises, will gain greater power and choice over their education. Improved advising and more transparency will allow students to choose their studies more effectively. “Students will control a much larger proportion of the investment in higher education. The will decide where the funding should go; and institutions will compete to get it. As students will be paying more than in the current system, they will demand more in return.” (29) But it remains unclear what this advice or these choices amount to in the end. The Browne report appears to assume that the key to student choice should be better advice about the immediate needs of the job market and likely wage-results of different courses of studies. While the report does include some recommendations for increasing universities’ commitment to teaching (particularly in transparency about contact time and information on who actually teaches courses) in the last analysis its notion of career and course choices is an economic and business one. Universities will succeed in their jobs when they better align their graduates with business demand and counseling will succeed when it makes it clear to students what the economic risks of their choices are.

The smoke and mirrors are impressive. As James Vernon reminds us, despite the rhetoric of freedom, students will now “be forced to pay for it through the sort of debt-financing that governments across the world now consider so inappropriate for themselves.” In the name of national austerity students will now be forced to increase their own debts, enmeshing themselves in what may be a 30 year indenture to the state.

But the problems are more than economic—the Browne report manages to dispatch without a second thought any notion that critical debate and reasoned judgments are of public value. Browne would have almost all public funding for the arts and humanities eliminated. His contempt for these fields, though implicit, is nearly complete. As Stefan Collini points out Browne can only imagine either rational individual choice or heavy-handed state body in control of education. As Collini puts it, “It is fascinating, and very revealing, to see how Browne’s unreal confidence in the rationality of subjective consumer choice is matched by his lack of belief in reasoned argument and judgment.” Getting an education is like getting a car; one just has to figure out the correct price point and what color you want. Browne, in effect, is denying the very essence of education—the fact that it can change the student as well as provide new knowledge and that it does so by exposing the student to debate and argument that s/he might not have considered before.

All of these proposals will strike those in the US as familiar. After all, the strategy of transferring public funding from institutions to students began here in the 1980s. Funding by the states has been declining for decades, the insistence that only the STEM fields and medicine are truly important is a common occurrence; and the claims that a high fee, high loan system can ensure access despite enormously rising student debt remains the conventional wisdom amongst higher education leaders. 

To be sure, there are differences. For one thing while we have been facing the decline of public support in a death of a thousand cuts, the English government aims to do it in one savage slash. For another, US higher education is far more diverse—the fate of public universities are only part of our puzzle; in England the death of the public university is an effective destruction of higher education as the English have known it. That may be the reason why the public response on the part of higher education leaders has been so much more forceful than our own and why a large protest [took place] in London [on] November 10.

But in the end it is the commonalities that are most striking. The Coalition's plans cuts to higher education are joined with cuts to social services and housing support; here Arnold has insisted on reducing (in some cases eliminating) support for the most needy. The drive for austerity has its roots in a political mindset left over from the 1980s—when in the face of the downturn of the Anglo-American capitalist systems, the assault on government and the notion of a public realm was proposed as a solution for the economy. Today, we can see the even more devastating downturn produced in large part by those 1980s policies. But as we see daily in the US and in more dramatic fashion in England, that assault is once more being trotted out as the solution to our problems.

Perhaps that is why Browne and his comrades have so little faith in the humanities and social sciences; they treat the historical record with evident scorn. We cannot do more than express our solidarity with those in the England. But we need to do at least that; and we should refuse to follow the Brownes and their compatriots in the US in their selective remembrance of the history of the last several decades. Focusing on STEM as the answer attempts to treat our economic ills as a technical problem and ignores the policy and historical roots of the economy's collapse.  If we don’t find effective ways to refuse their history we will be unable to refuse the future they seek to create.

Thursday 11 November 2010

"The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding"

Seal of the US National Endowment for the Humanities

Podcast from Why? Philosophical Discussions about Everyday Life
14 Mar 2010 05:00:00 GMT
Guest: Brenna Daugherty, ND Humanities Council
Play: HERE

What are the humanities and why are they important?

How can the National Endowment for the Humanities claim that their activities are “critical to our common civic life as a nation?” And most controversially, should the U.S. government fund such cultural endeavors? In this episode of Why? we examine the philosophical issues related to what has come to be called the public humanities: the effort of both private and governmental organizations to create and support events that disseminate philosophy, history, literature, and other arts to the general public.
A North Dakota native, Brenna Daugherty is currently the executive director of the North Dakota Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She received a master's degree in Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School in June 2005. Brenna has been awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award Bronze medal, a STAND Leader Americorp Education Award, and the Concordia College Servant Leadership Award for her work with early intervention for college attendance. At Concordia, her undergraduate alma mater, she was a founding member of TOCAR, a tri-college anti-racism initiative, and while at Harvard she was a founding member of Equitas, a social justice think tank.

(Thanks to JRW for the link)

Wednesday 10 November 2010

Why Humanities? Talks from the Birkbeck College Conference

Cover image from  C.P.Snow's The Two Cultures, the starting point for philosopher  Onora O’Neill's keynote lecture The Two Cultures Fifty Years On
Event held: 4-5th November 2010
Link to Recording of the keynote address at the Why Humanities? Event,
Birkbeck College, November 4, 2010, by: Professor Onora O’Neill, Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve
In his 1959 Rede lecture The Two Cultures C.P. Snow contrasted what he called ‘the traditional culture’ of literary study with the culture of natural science, and judged them wholly different in approach and achievements. The scientific culture, as he saw it, was rigorous and productive; the literary culture was neither. However, if we consider the approaches and methods actually used by inquiry in the humanities and in the natural sciences we find many similarities. In both domains inquiry relies on interpretation and inference, makes and seeks to support empirical truth claims and deploys and defends normative assumptions. It is hardly surprising that no single or simple conception of ‘impact’ can do justice to the diversity of work undertaken in either culture.
Onora O’Neill writes on ethics and political philosophy, including the philosophy of Immanuel Kant, questions of international justice, issues of trust and accountability, as well as medical and research ethics. She was Principal of Newnham College, Cambridge from 1992-2006, is professor emeritus in the Faculty of Philosophy in Cambridge and was President of the British Academy from 2005-9. She is a crossbench member of the House of Lords (Baroness O’Neill of Bengarve).
Further Talks from this Event:
Stefan Collini (Cambridge) ‘Holding our nerve’ - (AUDIO HERE)
Current attempts to "justify" the humanities always begin on the defensive and generally adopt an alien or inappropriate vocabulary. This paper suggests that we do better to focus on what we regard as distinctive about good work in our fields and then to characterise that in its own terms.
Iain Pears (Historian and Writer)
‘Taxes, banks, loans, and students’ – (AUDIO HERE)
Initial thoughts on the impact of Browne and the Comprehensive Spending Review on the Humanities.
Francis Mulhern (New Left Review)
‘Humanities and University Corporatism’ – (AUDIO HERE)
What if the emerging organizational tendencies in UK universities are by their nature at odds with the best traditions of the modern humanities? What then would be the terms of a realistic defence of humanities?
Joanna Bourke (Birkbeck)
‘La Fontaine’s Cat, Kafka’s Ape, and the Humanities’ – (AUDIO HERE)
Through prayer and love, La Fontaine's cat was transformed into a woman and Kafka's ape was catapulted into human society with his inebriated "Hullo!" This talk argues that the Humanities does not describe "the human" but creates it.
Raimond Gaita (Kings, London)
‘Callicles’ Challenge’ - (AUDIO HERE)
Callicles challenged Socrates to show that a lifelong devotion to the life of the mind could be worthy of a human being who has more than mediocre aspirations. Academics in universities, I argue in this essay, are under a defining obligation to try to make authoritatively living in their practice an adequate response to Callicles challenge. That, I argue, should be part of a deepened understanding of what it can mean to pursue a subject for its ‘intrinsic worth’. A failure on the part of academics to articulate the intrinsic value of university study as something deeper that a higher pleasure is one reason why universities have been unable to resists the pressures to justify themselves in vocational terms. Those pressures, and acquiescence of academics in a managerial newspeak have debased the ways academics speak of what they do, deny students the means to identity the treasures that a university education can give them, and makes it almost impossible for students and their teachers to resist become children of their times.
Kate Soper (London Met)
‘Rhetoric, Reality, Revisionings’ – (AUDIO HERE)
Current risks to the Humanities have to be placed in the context of a longstanding mismatch between the professed adherence to the value and importance of the Humanities for social and individual well-being, and the failure to allow those values any very central or practical role in social life. My talk will focus on this gap between the rhetoric of endorsement and the reality of marginalisation, suggesting that it has reached a particular crisis point. The defence of the role of Humanities for the future is best linked now to a call for radical revision of our ideas about ‘prosperity’ and the ‘good life’.
Quentin Skinner (QMUL)
‘Why the history of philosophy?’ - (AUDIO HERE)

Tuesday 9 November 2010

John Holmwood on University Teaching Funding Cuts in the UK

Demo 2010 – Fund Our Future
Against the Cuts? Attend Wednesday's NUS/UCU Demonstration in London
DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES is delighted to publish the below article about proposed teaching funding cuts in the UK by John Holmwood, Professor of Sociology at the University of Nottingham:

The combination of the Browne Review recommendations for the funding of higher education and the Government’s commitment to reduce the public deficit will have disastrous consequences for the arts, humanities and social sciences. The philistine assumptions of the Browne Review and its reduction of the public value of education to investment in human capital and economic growth have been subject to devastating criticism by Stefan Collini in his review, ‘Browne’s Gamble’.

The Browne Review recommends that public support via the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) teaching contribution should be removed from all subjects except science, technology, engineering, medicine and some modern languages. It argues that the introduction of a market for higher education emphasising student choice and funded through fees will encourage diversity and drive up quality.

The Government now recommends that fees be set at £6000 with a fee cap at £9000 (which, following strong lobbying from the Russell Group, will not have any penalty levy attached, as envisaged by Browne).

For arts, humanities, and social sciences (mostly so-called 'Band D' subjects), the fee of £6000 when introduced in the academic year 2011/12, will represent a cut in income per student from an aggregate sum £7322 in 2010/11 (this is made up of £3947 in HEFCE teaching contribution plus the student fee, which is currently at £3290, but will rise to £3375 in 2010/11). For studio-based subjects or those with a fieldwork element (the so-called 'Band C' subjects), the cut in income is even greater, from £8506. This latter cut is not far removed from that imposed between 1989 and 1997 when funding per student fell by 36%.

Students will experience a near doubling of their fees, while the income going to Universities to support their courses is reduced. However, for those institutions only able to charge the ‘soft cap’ fee of £6000, it is clear that what is in store is restructuring and redundancies, with consequences for staff morale and the student experience.

The stability of the ‘soft cap’ fee of £6000 is under threat from the fact that the Government is also opening higher education to competition from ‘for profit’ private providers and from Colleges of Further Education (the latter suggesting that they may be able to offer degrees at a fee of £3000). Competition is likely to be directed toward vocational social science and arts degree courses.

A ‘squeezed middle’ is likely to emerge which will have consequences for a significant number of Universities currently with strong arts, humanities and social sciences. The consequences of competition are likely to be accentuated if, and when, the cap on student numbers is lifted. Universities able to charge £9000 are likely to seek to maximise the number of students they recruit, at the same time as there will be competition for students from below. In so far as the ‘student assistance’ fund is the limit on the overall number of students in the system, then the pressures will be greater. They will only be offset to the extent that those who can afford to pay fees up front and do not attract financial assistance will be a minimal charge against that fund. These students, of course, are precisely those who the Russell Group Universities are seeking to attract for fees of £9000 (and potentially higher). The nature of the competitive process that will ‘peg back’ the fee of £6000 is likely to give rise to increased fees at the top end as education becomes valued as a ‘positional good’ in a competitive professional labour market.

Further Reading

Monday 8 November 2010


Demo 2010 – Fund Our Future
Against the proposed Higher Education teaching cuts in the UK? 

Please attend Wednesday's NUS/UCU Demonstration in London

Welcome to the new website of DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES.

DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES is a broad-based campaign set up to counter attacks on Arts and Humanities academic subjects and, in particular, to fight against any proposed withdrawal of public funding for these subjects in the context of the current global financial crisis.

Our first incarnation was as a Facebook group founded by a number of concerned Arts and Humanities academics in October 2010. Within two weeks the group had around 1,000 members from all over the world.

The group aims to help formulate and circulate a broad range of arguments in defence of our disciplines and to support and publicise kindred campaigns

You can email us here. And if you want to get more involved in the campaign you can either comment at this blog, or join the Facebook group and comment there.

Below are six key points that the group has articulated to help DEFEND the ARTS and HUMANITIES.

Why Defend the Arts and Humanities?

  • We teach students to think rigorously and to write clearly and creatively.
  • These skills do not date (unlike many of those taught on vocational training programmes), will equip students for long-term career development in a rapidly changing professional workplace, and will always be in demand.
  • Higher levels of professional advancement are attained by arts and humanities graduates than by graduates of vocational degrees.
  • Education is the biggest factor in promoting social mobility. The arts and humanities promote an education that does not assume its students occupy a fixed place in society.

  • Regardless of political beliefs, we cannot decide what is good and desirable without the thinking that the humanities make possible.
  • The ability to evaluate what is just, what is fair, what is inherently good is nurtured in arts and humanities disciplines (or in disciplines that take recourse to the fundamental questions we ask). Many disciplines will only ask: ‘Will it make money?’ or ‘Is it useful?’ In insisting that we must ask ‘Is it good?’, ‘Is it just?’ we ensure the moral sustainability of our culture.
  • The very notion of democracy itself is a humanistic concept and can only be explained through the values and concepts taught in the humanities. The withdrawal of funding for the arts and humanities is anti-democratic.

  • In the UK, for example, the government’s investment in the arts is more than doubled in its return to the economy.
  • The UK’s economy is dependent on its media, culture, and tourism. These fields are fuelled by the creativity of arts and humanities graduates. By diminishing the support of and access to arts and humanities degrees, we risk damaging one of the most valuable and dynamic engines of the British economy.

  • University education was founded on humanistic learning. The drastic withdrawal of public support for humanities teaching and research puts our best traditions at risk.
  • Arts and humanities disciplines teach us to know and to question what we inherit from past generations. We risk losing a vital connection to the complexity of our history and, in doing so, we invite a future that is impoverished, in more ways than one.

  • Teaching students to read poetry or philosophy or how to understand a painting or a film are not elite pursuits, although they will increasingly become so if public funding is withdrawn. The humanities are founded on the conviction that everyone can be educated and that culture is for everyone. Elitism assumes that only some people are interested in or have the time for humanistic learning.

  • The arts and humanities often focus on experimental thought; that is, they foster thought beyond the norms of the present.
  • Without the capacity to think beyond repetition there is no beyond to crisis.