Notre Dame’s Provost Defends the Humanities in a “High-Tech World”


University of Notre Dame Provost Thomas G. Burish informs us that “only two of the top 50 public institutions for research-and-development spending in the humanities in the 2016 fiscal year devoted more than 5 percent of their overall R&D to the humanities, while 19 of the top 50 private nonprofit institutions did.”

Burish believes this is a problem.  Here is a taste of his recent piece at The Chronicle of Higher Education:

Even at my institution, the University of Notre Dame, which ranked second among private universities in the dollar amount of its research-and-development spending on the humanities, we should do more. Rather than shun the “tyranny of relevance” — a concept within the liberal-arts community that refers to the need to demonstrate tangible benefits of humanities-research funding — we should embrace it. If we, like many others, believe in the vital importance of the humanities in grappling with basic questions of truth, the essence of humanness, and the importance of ethical decision-making, among other crucial issues, we must invest more.

If we do not, the humanities will be marginalized by the false premise that they provide nice flourishes but are not effective in dealing with the exciting and challenging advances made possible by the latest technologies. The humanities are neither opposed to technological progress nor indifferent to it; they are valuable partners in it, and must be adequately supported to perform that role.

Read the rest here.