The Demise of the Humanities:

Robert VerBruggen has a marvelous one paragraph summary of the current state of the study of the humanities in the modern university, summarizing Christopher Orlet's review of Anthony Kronman's book Education's End (got that?):

He makes the case that humanities are trending down for three reasons. One, in a tougher economy, it's not really worthwhile to spend a ton of money learning about the meaning of life instead of preparing for a career. Two, PC has taken away whatever value such moral studies used to have. Three, rather than grapple with big questions, the humanities have been focusing on minutiae.

I read Tony's book this past fall and thought it very good and very insightful. Kronman's analysis of the crippling effects of political correctness on the humanities is especially powerful. Kronman also presented the inaugural Janus Lecture this spring for the Daniel Webster Program at Dartmouth. I recommend the book for those interested in higher education today.

I don't recall Tony actually making point one above (that it is not worthwhile to spend a ton of money learning about the meaning of life) and it doesn't seem consistent with my take away from the book. The point itself, however, seems quite valid whether it is Kronman's or Orlet's. The three factors, of course, are mutually reinforcing--the triviality and PC'ness of much of the humanities contributes to the perception that they are a waste of time compared to the task of human capital development.