Bloomberg the Company & Products

Bloomberg Anywhere Login


Connecting decision makers to a dynamic network of information, people and ideas, Bloomberg quickly and accurately delivers business and financial information, news and insight around the world.


Financial Products

Enterprise Products


Customer Support

  • Americas

    +1 212 318 2000

  • Europe, Middle East, & Africa

    +44 20 7330 7500

  • Asia Pacific

    +65 6212 1000


Industry Products

Media Services

Follow Us

Harvard Must Boost Humanities to Stop Decline, Report Says

Harvard Must Boost Humanities to Stop Decline, Report Says
A student residence stands at Harvard University in Cambridge. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

June 6 (Bloomberg) -- Harvard University needs to do more to encourage freshmen to study humanities to halt a slide in undergraduate interest in subjects including art history, literature and music, a university report said.

Harvard College, the undergraduate division, should expose more freshmen to humanities during orientation, create art and exhibition spaces and fund internships to allow students to experience careers in the arts, according to a statement today on Harvard’s website.

Philosophical and artistic concepts are essential for describing and ultimately changing the world, according to one of three reports Harvard issued today about rejuvenating the study of the humanities. The report expressed concern that the number of students concentrating in humanities at Harvard has dropped to 17 percent from 24 percent in 1954, and more than half of those who intend to concentrate in the humanities end up graduating from other departments.

“A Harvard College education must provide our students with the ability to interpret ideas, regardless of discipline, in order to prepare them for the world they will enter,” Michael D. Smith, dean of the faculty of arts and sciences, said in the statement.

The skills developed by the study of humanities -- the ability to reason, analyze and debate -- are more important than ever, Smith said. Also, humanities students have the highest levels of satisfaction and tend to stick to their studies, according to the report.

Harvard is preparing to announce a capital campaign in September that will raise funds for buildings and new initiatives. In a statement last week, Harvard President Drew Faust set the generation of new knowledge “across the natural and social sciences and humanities,” as the first of seven principles that will be addressed by the campaign.

The Harvard Crimson student newspaper has reported that the campaign goal will be at least $6 billion.

To contact the reporter on this story: Oliver Staley in London at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Lisa Wolfson at

Please upgrade your Browser

Your browser is out-of-date. Please download one of these excellent browsers:

Chrome, Firefox, Safari, Opera or Internet Explorer.