Working Papers in the Humanities
The Humanities and the Future of the University

The Humanities and the Future of the University

Jacqueline Murray
Meagan Pugahl
Harry Arthurs, York University
Harold Coward, University of Victoria
Jancie Newson
Lynn Penrod, University of Alberta
Catharine Stimpson, Rutgers University


Working Papers in the Humanities 6

The continuing marginalization of the humanities in the academy was the immediate impetus for the Distinguished Speaker Series, "The Humanities and the Future of the University," from which this volume emanates. The humanities in Canadian universities have been so weakened by neglect and hostility that their very survival is threatened. The consequences of this course of action have been ill-considered and ignored by politicians seeking to reduce deficits and by university administrators who make decisions equally with an .eve on the bottom line. Demands for demonstrable relevance and skills training have cast a dark shadow over the flexibility and sophistication that characterizes the product of a humanist education. These are the traits which are abundantly evident in the thought, but also in the careers, of the contributors to this volume. Humanists, critical thinkers all, but also practical people, able administrators and organizers, they are living examples of the usefulness of the humanities. They are not only leaders in their fields of studies, but also in the quest for a stronger academy which honours its traditions while embracing changing values and circumstances. Their insights into the workings of the education system and the construction of the contemporary culture of education versus training are both illuminating and chilling. These are the voices of the eleventh hour, calling everyone concerned with education, and indeed with civilization, to take heed of the structural undermining of the humanities which is proceeding all too rapidly. If permanent irreparable damage to the foundations of our educational and social systems is to be avoided, these voices must be heard now, not only by the converted, by the believer in the studia humanitatis, but also by politicians and university administrators. Most important of all, however, the general public must take notice of the current state of affairs because the marginalization or disappearance of the humanities will affect the shape of the world in which we live, and which we bequeath to our children.