Humanities Dean Vows to Assess, Improve Program


    By Erica Wolfe

    It is a common perception that a humanities degree is worth just about as much, in earning power, as a high school diploma. But Dean John Rosenberg of the College of Humanities is determined to change that.

    Presenting his course of action to students during Thursday”s College Forum, Rosenberg revealed a new Web site for humanities majors that will allow them to assess their program”s strengths and track their own academic progress. It details programs” learning outcomes and creates online student portfolios.

    Although the Web site is still in the developmental process, Rosenberg discussed the reasons behind its creation. Its purpose is to inform students on the ongoing improvement of the humanities programs and to communicate program strengths to students, parents and administrators.

    “BYU is accredited, but we need to show our learning outcomes,” Rosenberg said. “We need to publish learning outcomes for all programs, we need to determine that students are reaching them and we need to take what we”ve learned and go back and continue to improve the programs.”

    Rosenberg presented the new Web site to students during College Forum, a program started last year to personalize the relationship between students and college deans, and outlined the critical impact that a humanities major can have upon society.

    “You often hear people asking why it is that you don”t get a real major,” Rosenberg said. “What drives that question is a particular attitude towards education…that one can equate the value of education to its earning power.”

    Humanities classes anciently belonged to the area of liberal arts, Rosenberg said. These subjects were only available to those who had the political and financial means, as well as the free time to devote to the pursuit of higher-level learning.

    Higher learning, once considered recreational, is now essential.

    While those with humanities degrees have been devalued into today”s society, Rosenberg reassured students that their education would influence all of society through the work field.

    “Polling employers, we”ve asked them what they are looking for in their workers,” said Rosenberg. “They are looking for people who read well, write well, think critically, express themselves, and who adapt. Students within this field have those qualities. They are the primary outcomes of a humanities major.”

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