Let’s face it, the humanities are in trouble. Last year, in The Chronicle of Higher Education, Thomas H. Benton warned prospective graduate students to avoid doctoral studies in the humanities. His rationale: a job market down 40%, the improbability of tenure, the more certain prospect of life as an adjunct, and eventual outright exile from one’s chosen field. Benton, the pen name of William Pannapacker, an associate professor of English at Hope College in Holland, Michigan, pulled no punches. His piece was entitled, “Graduate School in the Humanities: Just Don’t Go.”
Joseph J. Fins, M.D., F.A.C.P., is Chief, Division of Medical Ethics, Professor of Medicine, Professor of Public Health, and Professor of Medicine in Psychiatry at the Weill Cornell Medical College and a member, Adjunct Faculty, at The Rockefeller University.