Don’t Lose Faith in the Humanities: How Pitt-Greensburg is Handling the Decline in Humanities Enrollment
by Caitlin Cruser
Since the early 2010s, college enrollment in the humanities has steadily decreased. But in 2020, less than 10% of college graduates obtained humanities degrees. In 2022, this number was even lower.
But what does that mean for Pitt-Greensburg, a liberal arts school?
Not much, suggests Dr. John H. Prellwitz, associate professor of Communication and Humanities Division chair.
“There is a gradual decline, yes,” Prellwitz says. “And we’ve actually been taking steps to address it.”
Last year, the Humanities Division hired five new full-time faculty.
“I think that’s absolutely necessary,” Prellwitz says about the new hires. “It’s going to help us to further enrich a number of programs and offer more courses. The people we’ve hired are very high quality. They are already making distinctive contributions.”
Prellwitz believes these changes will make Pitt-Greensburg’s Humanities Division seem more attractive to prospective students.
“I believe we will stabilize those enrollment numbers for our campus, if not maybe see some slight upticks in the near future,” Prellwitz says.
These changes won’t benefit only those seeking a humanities degree. At least one humanities course, Public Speaking, is required for all graduates. Many majors require additional humanities courses.
Prellwitz encourages students not to see humanities classes as merely requirements, but as true learning opportunities.
“The ability to accurately communicate our ideas in writing, orally, and visually is something we often take for granted,” Prellwitz says. “But it’s something that can make every job easier.”
Beyond the edge that a background in humanities can give students looking for careers after college, Prellwitz also talks about the incredible gifts humans get from studying the humanities.
“I think that the humanities enable us to find sustainable value in our lives,” he says.
Prellwitz points out that studying humanities not only helps people learn skills they can use in their careers, but gives them lifelong skills that will be useful in every part of their lives.
“The humanities allow us to see different people from different perspectives and to have a greater understanding of them,” he says. “Empathy. We get that through stories.”
Great article! It’s refreshing to see a proactive approach being taken by Pitt-Greensburg’s Humanities Division to address the decline in enrollment. With the addition of new faculty members, do you think there are any new or unique courses being offered that could attract students who may not have previously considered pursuing a humanities degree?