The Crisis in the Humanities and its Relevance to Communication Studies


  • Brett Ingram Communication Department Boston College
  • Lisa Cuklanz Communication Department Boston College


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


Association of American Colleges & Universities


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Author Biographies

Brett Ingram, Communication Department Boston College

Visiting Assistant Professor

Boston College

Lisa Cuklanz, Communication Department Boston College

Professor and Chair

Communication Department




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