MOOCs: Will Online Education Ruin the University Experience? | New Republic:I do wonder, since my wife and I have said that we'd insist a child study a STEM major. In the end, we would rather be practical. Now, an English minor? Or a double-major in engineering and art? That's great. But to have a major in the humanities without a safety net? No.
One vulnerable structure is the faculty itself, which is already in a fragile state. This is especially true of those who teach subjects such as literature, history, and the arts. The humanities account for a static or declining percentage of all degrees conferred, partly because students often doubt their real-world value. And as humanities departments shrink, some institutions are collaborating to shrink them faster (or close them altogether) in order to avoid duplicative hiring in subjects with low student demand. For example, Columbia, Yale, and Cornell have announced a collaboration whereby certain languages—such as Romanian, Tamil, or Yoruba—will be taught via teleconferencing. This is good for students, since the subjects will still be available. But it’s bad for aspiring faculty—as the number of positions dwindles, research and scholarship in these fields will dry up.
The state of the humanities?