The Study the Humanities Toolkit is a collection of resources for higher education faculty and administrators to use in making the case for the value of studying the humanities as an undergraduate.

The first five sections of the toolkit are organized around overarching arguments for studying the humanities and the data—packaged into charts, data points, profiles, and articles—that can be used to bolster those arguments.

These five sections are:

  • Humanities Majors Outperform Others On Many Measures
  • Humanities Majors Develop the Skills that Employers Want
  • Humanities Majors Find Lucrative and Satisfying Careers
  • Humanities Majors are Leaders in a Wide Variety of Professions
  • The Benefits of Studying the Humanities Extend Far Beyond Career

Finally, the sixth section of the toolkit contains articles on the value of studying the humanities that are ripe for sharing on social media or in print.

On Terminology

This toolkit draws on resources that discuss the impact of studying the humanities and the fields most often associated with the humanities, including history, philosophy, anthropology, archaeology, history of art, religious studies, the humanistic social sciences, and literature and languages. At times, it borrows from studies that have evaluated the impact of studying the “liberal arts” or “arts and sciences” rather than the humanities. It does so with the assumption that courses of study in the liberal arts or the arts and sciences generally include a robust role for the humanities.

This toolkit focuses on “majors” (individuals who major in a humanities subject) in large part because available quantitative data use majors as the category of analysis. The toolkit is not meant to suggest that students are best off with a singular focus on the humanities. While there is little data on the value of minoring in the humanities or just taking a range of courses in the humanities, we expect that several of the benefits of majoring would extend to these experiences as well.

Recently the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine have undertaken an effort to gather evidence for the value of integrating STEM into the coursework of arts and humanities majors and for the value of integrating the arts and humanities into the coursework of STEM majors. While the ad hoc committee convened by the National Academies has yet to release its findings, many in higher education have long recognized the value of a broad-based education, generally, and an integrative approach, more specifically. Indeed, several institutions that emphasize STEM have developed curricula that value an integrative approach. The Olin College of Engineering, for example, has long been dedicated to integrating the humanities and arts into its curriculum and recently received a grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation to deepen these efforts. Sara Hendren, assistant professor of design at Olin College and principal investigator on the grant, noted that “deep engagement with the arts and humanities is vital for young engineers to understand that their work enters not just a marketplace, but into the histories, politics, and aesthetics of people's lives.”

Using The Toolkit

We invite you to use the material in the toolkit to create print and electronic materials that will address the audiences you are trying to reach, such as potential majors, parents, administrators, career counselors, or athletics departments.

Some sections of the website—particularly those with graphs, charts, and statistics—have a “Share, Download, Present” function at the bottom of the page, which will download the material as a series of slides. From there, individual assets can be used in a variety of ways or used collectively for a presentation.

Other sections of the website, including those with quotes and video, can be easily copied and pasted.

Help Us Learn More

Help us learn about best practices for promoting the humanities on college campuses so that we can share them with the National Humanities Alliance community.

Humanities faculty and administrators across the country are developing innovative ways to draw students to humanities classes, but the knowledge of how they have successfully done so is diffuse. To capture successful approaches, as well as learn more about the challenges at different types of institutions, we created the following survey for faculty and administrators. Survey results will help us to create shareable resources that document particularly effective strategies. Please take a moment to share about relevant efforts at your institution for the benefit of others.

Take the Survey

Data Sources

We have compiled the data in the toolkit from a wide range of sources. Section introductions specify the data sources drawn on in that section. Data sources are also embedded in the shareable graphics. For a complete bibliography, click here.