David Brooks, a New York Times op-ed columnist, examines a new report assessing the state of the humanities, The Hearth of the Matter. The report was requested by a bi-partisan group of Congressmen and written by the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences to advance the dialogue on the importance of the humanities and social sciences to the future of our nation. Brooks says the report, "reinforces the sense that people no longer feel the intrinsic value of reading important books of the ages."

A half-century ago, 14 percent of college degrees were awarded to people who majored in the humanities, says Brooks. Today, only 7 percent of graduates in the country are humanities majors. Most people give an economic explanation for this decline, he says. Accounting majors get jobs. Lit majors don’t. And there’s obviously some truth to this. But the humanities are not only being bulldozed by an unforgiving job market, he says. They are committing suicide because many humanists have lost faith in their own enterprise.

“Back when the humanities were thriving, the leading figures had a clear definition of their mission and a fervent passion for it,” Brooks writes. “The job of the humanities was to cultivate the human core, the part of a person we might call the spirit, the soul, or, in D.H. Lawrence’s phrase, ‘the dark vast forest.’”

Read Brooks’ full column here.

Posted on June 25 2013