In the English-speaking world, over the past half-century, the proportion of students studying humanities at university has hardly changed. True, as one might expect, in the US, the United Kingdom and Australia, there have been fluctuations and important changes in educational demographics, most importantly more women going to college. The crude picture is this: in 1971, humanities students outnumbered business students; now it’s the other way around. But in 1971 there were also about 50 per cent more business majors than science majors; now there are about 250 per cent more.
So relative to business, both the sciences and the humanities have fallen behind since 1971, and the sciences much further. Since the 1980s, however, the gap between the humanities and business has, in fact, shrunk, while the gap between the sciences and business continued to grow. And, very importantly, the rapid expansion of higher education in the world over the past couple of generations means that, in absolute numbers, more people are studying the humanities than ever before.
The question is why humanists have not been able or willing to recognise their own sustained success.
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