This piece in the American Scholar offers a great analysis of why fewer and fewer undergraduates study the humanities. Business studies, by contrast, have been surging. Between 1970/71 and 2003/4, the percentage of US undergraduates studying business went from 13.7% to 21.9%.
Meanwhile for the humanities, it was a grimmer picture: English, from 7.6 percent of the majors to 3.9 percent; foreign languages and literatures, from 2.5 percent to 1.3 percent; philosophy and religious studies, from 0.9 percent to 0.7 percent; history from 18.5 percent to 10.7 percent.
There are many reasons for all this: the ineffectiveness of humanities teaching; the way in which children are forced to choose their careers at an ever younger age; the competitiveness of the economy; the explosive growth in often worthless higher education.
But if one in five American undergraduates are now spending three or four years studying business, what exactly are they being taught that contributes to the economic, social or cultural betterment of this country? Or are they spending their time and money studying subjects which would be better taught by companies in a few day/night courses to those who need to know them?