Humanities Indicators
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Overview of Findings from the 2012–13 Humanities Departmental Survey

 Full Technical Report, 260 pp.

Despite considerable discussion in the media about the impact of the recent recession on academia in general and the humanities in particular, the results from the Humanities Departmental Survey (HDS-2) suggest considerable continuity between the 2007–08 and 2012–13 academic years—bearing in mind that we are only seeing snapshots from two moments in time. Among the degree-granting departments surveyed for both HDS-1 and HDS-2 (in art history, English, languages and literatures other than English, history, history of science, linguistics, combined languages and literatures programs, and religion at four-year institutions) the number of existing departments and faculty appeared relatively unchanged, though the number of students majoring in the humanities slipped.

In every discipline, a relatively small number of departments who had granted degrees in 2007–08 were no longer offering degrees in the subject five years later. The declines ranged from 1 (out of 19) in history of science to about 40 (out of more than 1,250) in languages and literatures other than English (Figure 1). Note, however, that HDS-2 was not designed to capture new programs or departments created since the first round of the survey, in order to provide the clearest possible view of the changes. A review of data gathered by the federal government shows a net increase from 2007 to 2012 in the number of postsecondary institutions conferring degrees in two of the larger humanities disciplines, history and English (Figure 2). Thus the net reduction in the number of humanities degree-granting departments may be less pronounced than HDS-2 indicates.

Alongside the departments that lost all degree-granting status, some departments reported the termination of degrees at some level in their programs (Figure 3). Among languages and literatures other than English (LLE), for instance, 12% reported the elimination of either an undergraduate or graduate degree, with 18% of the LLE departments at public institutions reporting such a loss. This could include the termination of a degree in one language in a multi-language department. Among all the departments in the survey, 6% reported the loss of a degree at some level, with a larger proportion (8%) of departments at public colleges and universities experiencing such a loss.

Because not all departments that were granting degrees in 2007–08 were still doing so in 2012, HDS-2 recorded a modest drop in the number of humanities faculty (Figure 4) and a larger proportional decline in the number of juniors and seniors majoring in most of the humanities disciplines included in both surveys (Figure 5). But the declines recorded by the survey cannot tell the whole story of trends in the number of faculty and students in these disciplines. HDS-2 did not capture faculty members teaching in departments formed in the five years between the two rounds of the study, and thus the contraction of the faculty may be smaller than the study suggests. And even though the loss of degree-granting status removed some departments and programs from the survey (and thus their faculty, as well), this does not necessarily mean that positions were eliminated, as the teaching of particular subjects often continued even in the absence of a degree in the subject. Among departments that were in existence in both 2007 and 2012, English was the only discipline that experienced a statistically significant reduction in the average number of faculty in its departments.

For more detailed findings in the specific topic areas addressed by the survey, see the summaries on faculty, students, digital humanities, workforce issues, and other departmental issues, as well as brief summaries for each of the disciplines.

Tables

Estimated Number of HDS-1 Departments and Faculty Members, Fall 2012 (art history, English, languages and literatures other than English, history, history of science, linguistics, combined languages and literatures programs, and religion)

Estimated Number of Departments and Faculty Members, Fall 2012: New Disciplines (folklore, musicology, classical studies, philosophy, and communication)

HDS2-S1: Estimated Number of Humanities Departments, by Discipline, Fall 2007 and 2012

* For these disciplines, a representative sample of the departmental population was drawn in 2007. Data were collected for this same set of departments for both the 2007–08 and 2012–13 academic years. Because the sample did not include any departments created during the five years between the two surveys, the estimated totals for 2007 and 2012 should not be compared directly. The 2012 values can be interpreted as estimates of minima for the disciplinary totals for that year.
** A combined department is one that grants degrees in English and also in languages and literatures other than English.
† Some surveyed departments classified as being within languages and literatures other than English (LLE) for HDS-1 were reclassified as belonging to classical studies for HDS-2. Because the published HDS-1 value for LLE cannot be compared with that for HDS-2, the fall 2007 LLE value provided in this graph reflects the reclassification performed as part of HDS-2.

Source: Susan White, Raymond Chu, and Roman Czujko,  The 2012–13 Survey of Humanities Departments at Four-Year Institutions, Tables 1a and b, pp. 4–5 (College Park, MD: Statistical Research Center, American Institute of Physics, 2014). Study conducted for the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators Project.

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HDS2-S2: Number of Institutions Conferring Bachelor’s Degrees in History and English, Academic Years 2006–07 Through 2011–12*

* To exclude degrees reported by colleges and universities that lack substantive programs in the subject, the tabulation excluded institutions that conferred fewer than 10 degrees in the previous three-year period.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online integrated science and engineering resources data system, WebCASPAR.

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HDS2-S3: Percentage of Humanities Departments Ceasing to Grant Degrees at Some Level, by Form of Institutional Control and Discipline, Fall 2007–Fall 2012*

* History of Science and folklore were excluded from this graph because the estimate for every category of institution was either zero or of insufficient precision (the standard error associated with each estimate was more than 25% of the estimate's value). Combined departments were not included in this graph because there were too few respondents to provide a reliable estimates for every category of institution. (A combined department is one that grants degrees in English and also in languages and literatures other than English.)

Source: Susan White, Raymond Chu, and Roman Czujko,  The 2012–13 Survey of Humanities Departments at Four-Year Institutions, Table 23, p. 32 (College Park, MD: Statistical Research Center, American Institute of Physics, 2014). Study conducted for the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators Project.

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HDS2-S4: Estimated Number of Humanities Faculty Members (Full- and Part-Time), by Discipline, Fall 2007 and 2012

* For these disciplines, a representative sample of the departmental population was drawn in 2007. Data were collected for this same set of departments for both the 2007–08 and 2012–13 academic years. Because the sample did not include any departments created during the five years between the two surveys, the estimated totals for 2007 and 2012 should not be compared directly. The 2012 values can be interpreted as estimates of minima for the disciplinary totals for that year.
** A combined department is one that grants degrees in English and also in languages and literatures other than English.
† Some surveyed departments classified as being within languages and literatures other than English (LLE) for HDS-1 were reclassified as belonging to classical studies for HDS-2. To provide a direct comparison to the numbers reported in HDS-1, the estimate of LLE faculty members for 2012 presented in this graph includes those faculty members shifted to classical studies as part of the reclassification. As a result, some faculty members are counted in both LLE and classical studies for 2012.

Source: Susan White, Raymond Chu, and Roman Czujko,  The 2012–13 Survey of Humanities Departments at Four-Year Institutions, Tables 1a and b, pp. 4–5 (College Park, MD: Statistical Research Center, American Institute of Physics, 2014). Study conducted for the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators Project.

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HDS2-S5: Estimated Number of Juniors and Seniors with a Declared Major in the Humanities, by Discipline, Academic Years 2006–07 and 2011–12

* For these disciplines, a representative sample of the departmental population was drawn in 2007. Data were collected for this same set of populations for both the 2007–08 and 2012–13 academic years. Because the sample did not include any departments created during the five years between the two surveys, the estimated totals for 2007 and 2012 should not be compared directly. The 2012 values can be interpreted as estimates of minima for the disciplinary totals for that year. For several disciplines, the estimated number of declared majors for 2012 was too small to display clearly on the graph. The number of declared majors for each of these disciplines is: folklore, 120; history of science, 210; and musicology, 390.
** A combined department is one that grants degrees in English and also in languages and literatures other than English.
† Because some surveyed departments classified as being within languages and literatures other than English for HDS-1 were reclassified as belonging to classical studies for HDS-2, the student totals for the two surveys are not comparable.

Source: Susan White, Raymond Chu, and Roman Czujko,  The 2012–13 Survey of Humanities Departments at Four-Year Institutions, Tables 9a and b, pp. 16–17(College Park, MD: Statistical Research Center, American Institute of Physics, 2014). Study conducted for the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators Project.

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