The American Academy of Arts and Sciences initiated the Humanities Departmental Survey (HDS), first administered in 2008 (collecting data on the 2007–08 academic year), to fill critical gaps in our knowledge about the state of the humanities in higher education; specifically, about the number of faculty and students in the field and the role of humanities departments in their institutions and society. Apart from trends in the number of students receiving degrees in humanities disciplines, data sources about the state of the humanities at the national level have fallen away over the past 15 years, leaving decision-makers without key guideposts during a time of change in higher education.
With the 2012–13 survey (HDS-2), the American Academy can now provide information about two points in time for the eight disciplines and subfields included in the first survey (art history, English, history, history of science, languages and literatures other than English (LLE), linguistics, combined English and LLE, and religion). For HDS-2 these data are supplemented with complementary information from departments in five additional disciplines (classical studies, communication, folklore, musicology, and philosophy). While it does not supply trend data for these new disciplines, HDS-2 offers an informative snapshot—and important baseline data for subsequent studies—that will enrich the national conversation about the present condition and future of the academic humanities.
The questions in this round of the HDS covered a number of topics included in the original survey—such as the number and character of departments, the faculty teaching in them, and their students—while adding new questions designed to understand departments’ undergraduate assessment practices and to capture the ways humanities departments connect to the wider world through workforce training and the digital humanities.
The Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics (AIP) worked with staff members at the Academy's Humanities Indicators project, stakeholders from the scholarly societies, and funders at the National Endowment for the Humanities to revise the survey instrument and field it. As with the first department survey, AIP achieved a remarkably high response rate (over 70% for all but two disciplines). AIP weighted and tabulated the data, and has presented their detailed findings in a final technical report available in its entirety on this site.
To make the information as accessible as possible, the tables included in the AIP report are posted here in the topic areas indicated above, and also by discipline. For each topic, Humanities Indicators staff have also compiled key findings. These brief summaries, which include visual representations of the data, are available on each of the topic-oriented pages of the site. Alongside the summary reports, more detailed breakdowns of the results for each discipline are available. Many of these parse the data by Carnegie classification type and the type of institutional control.
Please do not hesitate to contact the staff of the Humanities Indicators project with questions or concerns about HDS-2 or its findings. Suggestions as to topics that should be addressed in the next iteration of the HDS are also warmly welcomed.