The Crisis in the Humanities and its Relevance to Communication Studies

Brett Ingram, Lisa Cuklanz


Contemporary pressures on institutions of higher learning, including economic pressures, a highly competitive “rankings” environment and critiques of the high cost of a university education, are making it increasingly more difficult to maintain a focus on intellectual values traditionally held by liberal arts colleges and universities. The field of Communication has some apparent advantages in the more market-driven higher education environment, with its potential focus on skills training and practical pre-professional education. However, we argue that these very elements mean, ironically, that the field should re-focus on what can contribute to the liberal arts traditions to which it belongs. To do otherwise, and to focus on skills while other disciplines do not do so, is to sell ourselves short and to play into criticisms of the Communication Studies as one lacking in depth, rigor, and intellectual challenge. In the end, the value of the degree is undercut if practical principles are accepted above intellectual values and goals. The article argues that the Communication departments situated in schools of liberal arts, arts and sciences, or humanistic studies must eschew emphasis on skills-based course work and refocus attention on our intellectual traditions.


communication; skills; liberal arts; technology; crisis; humanities

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Association of American Colleges & Universities

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