Arts and Humanities subjects reach new popularity in continuing education

Report: Arts and Humanities subjects reach new popularity in continuing education


The New York Times reports that Arts and Humanities courses are finding a new popularity in continuing education programs nationwide. During times of economic uncertainty, continuing education participation tends to lean towards courses and programs to help students succeed in the job market. However, the report offers that enrollments in Arts and Humanities courses at New York University’s continuing education school grew 5 percent from last fall—an uptick that is reflected in continuing education programs nationwide.

The report continues that many of those enrolled in NYU’s CE program are laid-off Wall Street workers who were eligible for emergency retraining grants from the government. Instead of taking additional courses in business and finance, they decided to take courses covering topics they were more interested in, such as politics, literature, and philosophy. Terry Shtob, director of liberal arts at NYU’s continuing education school, said in the report that after speaking with a few students, her impression was that these students had originally chosen careers in fields like business and law primarily because they felt those were financially secure. When that turned out not to be case, she said, they decided “I might as well do what I love.”

Mary Walshok of the University of California, San Diego, added: “From where we sit, the humanities are more critical than ever because of their role in helping to understand the political and cultural context of the world we live in today. They contribute to Americans’ capacity to be good citizens, as well as enrich many areas of professional practice, given the effects of the global economy on so many spheres of work.”

Daniel Shannon of the University of Chicago said he believed a deep appreciation of the humanities was connected to age. “The humanities become more important as you grow older,” he said. “Some of them, I think, come back because they yearn to capture what they didn’t have in their undergraduate experience, particularly those who went through professional programs like business or nursing.” Others return, he added, because they suddenly realize “that at 18, they didn’t have the capacity to read critically Socrates, Thucydides and Nietzsche.”

Continuing and Innovative Education’s Odyssey program is designed to offer courses covering a range of subjects including history, literature, media, science, politics and art. These academic, non-credit courses are taught by university and area scholars and are open to anyone with a desire to learn. Fall 2010 registration for Odyssey is now open with the following line-up:

  • "Modern Genetics: How Our DNA Affects Our Daily Lives"
  • "Communication Disorders in History, Literature and Popular Culture"
  • "20 Great Photographs and What Makes Them Great"
  • "Anthropology at the Movies"
  • "Word for Word: The UT Speaker Series"
    This lecture series features professors who speak on their favorite topics drawn from their research and teaching. This year’s topics include:
    • "From Here to Eternity: A Short History of the Universe"
    • "Cutting Through the Fog of Political Rhetoric"
    • "Samuel Langhorne Clemens: God’s Fool"
    • "Is God Possible?"
    • "Ludwig Van Beethoven: His Music and His Life"
    • "Barack Obama, the November Elections, and U.S. Foreign Policy"

Course, instructor and registration information is found on the Odyssey Web page. You may also download a copy of the Odyssey course bulletin.


Tags: trends, odyssey, new york times, continuing education, arts and humanities,