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Can Humanities Survive the Budget Cuts?

Full disclosure: I have multiple degrees in the humanities. 😃🎓

This article focuses on the state auditor of Mississippi and his judgment of ROI for state spending on higher education. I think there should be a healthy debate on the ROI of a degree & I would offer that most people’s sense of ROI is far too narrow. But, I digress…

Here’s the quote that is stuck in my mind:

Mr. White, the Republican state auditor, said his first questioning was whether state spending on degree programs matched the needs of the economy.

This quote demonstrates the limited–and ultimately harmful–perspective of Mr. White and his peers in the GOP. This perspective places education and students in service of the economy. This is backwards. The economy should serve people. State higher education funding should serve people. Thinking of people as a means to achieve the end of growing the economy is ultimately degrading and dismissive of the dignity each is due.

The U.S. would be much better off if state leaders made funding decisions based on what serves people. Funding humanities programs promotes the common good by empowering the citizenry to think carefully and critically about the world around them.

However, an electorate educated in the humanities may well select different state leadership. Perhaps this is the ROI feared by Mississippi’s elected officials.