APA, Others, Issue Statement Opposing Program Cuts at UW Stevens Point

The American Philosophical Association (APA) and 22 other academic organizations issued a statement today opposing the plans of administrators at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point (UWSP) to cease offering degrees in the humanities and social sciences.

The letter notes that certain vulnerable populations rely on regional universities:

it is especially important for regional public institutions, which serve large populations of first-generation college students, students of color, and students from families of limited means, to provide access to in-depth education in the full range of humanities and social science programs.

It also criticizes the narrowly careerist bent of the UWSP administrators’ plan to gut the traditional core of a university but preserve and promote programs in fire science and aquaponics:

There is convincing evidence that college graduates can be expected to change careers—not just jobs, but careers—several times in their working lives. By focusing on preparation only for narrowly defined jobs, Stevens Point administrators risk leaving students with considerably poorer preparation for the full range of careers most Americans will experience in a working lifetime.

Further, the plans suggest a failure to appreciate the practical benefits of studying the humanities and social sciences:

It is deeply misguided to eliminate humanities majors based on an inaccurate presumption that they do not prepare students for high-demand careers. Technology and business leaders continually affirm the value of humanities degrees, and employment rates and job satisfaction among humanities majors rival those in STEM and business fields.

The letter is reprinted in full, below.

Source: American Philosophical Association

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6 years ago

Just as a basic evidentiary question, assume the APA always opposes any program cuts that affect philosophy, regardless of the empirical considerations. (As evidence, pretend that, over the past whatever, X cuts have been proposed and the APA has opposed all of them–show me one case where the APA agrees philosophy should be cut.) What value should therefore be accorded these sorts of statements? In other words, isn’t there conceptual space for a distinction between partisan advocacy and objective analysis?

For example, note that the above statement contains zero numbers. It also contains zero information about budgets, enrollments, and so on. Finally, it includes vapid boilerplate (cf., “deeply misguided”, “irreparably damage liberal arts education”). What’s the difference between this and the NRA opposing restrictions on bump stocks?
Neither stance has any critical depth or serious currency. We dismiss the NRA as partisan blowhards but, because we’re enlightened liberals, we suppose this is different.

To be sure, I have no idea if this department should be closed. I’m sure the APA would tell me one thing, and the Provost would tell me another thing. But *neither* of those is likely to actually be informative.