As budgets cuts and an increasingly negative public image have taken their toll, humanities researchers at Duke and elsewhere are looking for ways to revitalize their fields. One solution has been interdisciplinary programs and research, which have traditionally been a strong suit of the University. As a result, these programs have seen major growth at Duke, though this expansion has not been without its detractors.
A new buzzword
In recent months, the humanities have come under renewed political attack—particularly following controversy over Wisconsin governor Scott Walker’s call for reallocating public funding from fields devoted to “the search for truth” to those that immediately address workforce demands. Similar comments by North Carolina governor Pat McCrory, who in previous years criticized the “educational elite” and fields such as gender studies, have reflected an increasingly prevalent perception of the humanities as obscure and out of touch with real world needs.
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