With additional cuts across the board a near certainty even as millions of federal stimulus dollars are funneled to education, the humanities are under greater pressure than ever to justify their existence to administrators, policy makers, students, and parents, reports the New York Times. In this era of lengthening unemployment lines and shrinking university endowments, questions about the importance of the humanities in a complex and technologically demanding world have taken on new urgency. Previous economic downturns have often led to decreased enrollment in the humanities disciplines, and many in the field worry that in this current crisis, those areas will be hit hardest. Already, scholars point to troubling signs. In the last three months, at least two dozen colleges have canceled or postponed faculty searches in religion and philosophy, according to a job postings page on Wikihost.org. The Modern Language Association’s end-of-the-year job listings in English, literature, and foreign languages dropped 21 percent for 2008-09 from the previous year, the biggest decline in 34 years. "Although people in humanities have always lamented the state of the field, they have never felt quite as much of a panic that their field is becoming irrelevant," said Andrew Delbanco, the director of American studies at Columbia University. Technology executives, researchers, and business leaders argue that producing enough trained engineers and scientists is essential to America’s economic vitality, national defense, and health care. Some of the staunchest humanities advocates, however, admit that they have failed to make their own case effectively…

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