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In History Departments, It’s Up With Capitalism And Down With Enrollments

Roundup
tags: history, academia, capitalism



Brian Domitrovic writes for Forbes. 

“In History Departments, It’s Up With Capitalism,” ran a New York Times headline in April 2013. The article discussed the sharp increase in scholarship and teaching about the history of capitalism in colleges and universities since the economic and financial crisis of 2008. Simultaneously, the history major in American institutions of higher learning was undergoing of a tremendous decline. From 2011 to 2017, the number of history majors fell by about a third. According to an American Historical Association study, history lost more majors in that span than any other field, outpacing serious losses in religion, languages, English, and philosophy.

It was a remarkable juxtaposition, a paradox. As faculty in history departments delved anew into explorations of the economic system, the American case in particular, students took leave of instruction in history at an acute rate. Academic history responded to the persistence of the difficult circumstances of the post-2008 economy in kind, with an intensive investigation into the history of capitalism, and students met this response of with the equivalent of revulsion.

The history major fell precipitously for many varied reasons, to be sure, but the correlation between “Up With Capitalism” and down with enrollments, as it were, is worth consideration. The vast new history of capitalism subfield is indisputably left-wing, if not neo-Marxist, in orientation. Typical works emphasize the crisis-prone nature of the economic system, the falsity of the American Dream, and the savage nature of inequality whenever capitalism produces economic growth. In this episode in which college students were faced with a big resurgence of left-wing thought in the classroom, it appears that they responded by leaving.

It was a remarkable juxtaposition, a paradox. As faculty in history departments delved anew into explorations of the economic system, the American case in particular, students took leave of instruction in history at an acute rate. Academic history responded to the persistence of the difficult circumstances of the post-2008 economy in kind, with an intensive investigation into the history of capitalism, and students met this response of with the equivalent of revulsion.

Read entire article at Forbes

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