Humanities Indicators
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Introduction to Survey on Humanities in Community Colleges

In the spring of 2017, the Humanities Indicators initiated a national census survey on the humanities in public community colleges. Past studies by the Indicators on degrees awarded and faculty employed at community colleges demonstrate the substantial presence of the humanities at the community college level. Unfortunately, information about the students taking humanities courses, the faculty teaching them, and how the humanities courses fit into the larger ecosystem of community colleges (such as their connection to workforce preparation) remains spotty at best. Given the U.S. Department of Education’s focus on community colleges and workforce training, the lack of information puts the humanities at a significant disadvantage when it comes to articulating the role and value of the field.

Working with the Community College Humanities Association, staff on the Indicators started to develop and test a survey in 2013, and found considerable interest in knowing more about the state of the humanities at the two-year level. Working with experts in the sector, staff members at the Indicators developed a survey instrument that leaders in the sector and institutional researchers feel is appropriate and likely to yield a significant response. Staff members also collected contact information for every community college in the country as the basis for a thorough survey of the sector.

Working with the statistical team at the American Institute of Physics (our partner for previous surveys of departments in four-year institutions), every public associate’s-degree-granting institution in country has been invited to participate in the online survey, with data collection beginning in March 2017. The data analysis will be analyzed in the summer and fall, with the expectation that a final report will be issued in spring 2018. The goal of this report would be to make policy-makers and the public aware of the scale of the humanities enterprise in community colleges, and to highlight key contrasts with the findings from the 2013 study of the humanities in four-year colleges.

For further information on this survey, please consult the FAQ below, or feel free to contact the Indicators staff and sign up for updates from the Indicators.

FAQ for Survey of Humanities in Two-Year Colleges

General Questions

Who or what is the American Academy of Arts and Sciences?
The American Academy, founded in 1780, serves the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge. As one of the country’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, the Academy convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to respond to the challenges facing the nation and world. For more, visit the Academy’s website at www.amacad.org.

Who or what is the Community College Humanities Association?
The Community College Humanities Association (CCHA), founded in 1979, is the only national organization of its kind for humanities faculty and administrators in two-year colleges. It is dedicated to preserving and strengthening the humanities in two-year colleges. For more, visit CCHA’s website at www.cchumanities.org.

Who or what is the National Endowment for the Humanities?
The National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) is an independent federal agency created in 1965. It is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. Because democracy demands wisdom, NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans. The Endowment accomplishes this mission by awarding grants for top-rated proposals examined by panels of independent, external reviewers. For more, visit NEH’s website at www.neh.gov. (Note: this Survey is funded by a grant from NEH.)

Who is the contractor for this survey?
The contractor for this survey is the Statistical Research Center (SRC) at the American Institute of Physics. This group has been conducting surveys in higher education settings since 1961. The SRC was the contractor for both rounds of the Humanities Departmental Survey which included four-year institutions only. The reports from these surveys are available at www.humanitiesindicators.org under the Higher Education tab.

Can’t you just use IPEDS data for this study?
IPEDS does not collect course-level enrollment data. This survey fills a gap in our knowledge of post-secondary humanities education and complement our surveys of four-year institutions described in the previous question. It allows us to capture data for the breadth of disciplines that fall under the humanities umbrella in two-year colleges.

Will the results of the survey be available to survey participants?
Absolutely. Currently data from the two rounds of surveys of four-year institutions is available at www.humanitiesindicators.org under the Higher Education tab. The full report from this Survey will be posted there as soon as it is available.

Concerns about Participating in the Survey

Is there a cost to participate?
There is no cost to participate. This study is funded by a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities.

What will happen to my answers?
We will not release, publish, or disseminate any information that could identify any of our respondents. Final results will be presented as aggregated data only.

Will I get junk mail if I answer this survey?
Absolutely not. We do not share your contact information, and we do not use it for any other purpose.

I don’t have time for this; I’m really busy.
We know that you are very busy, and we will do whatever we can to help. The survey uses IPEDS categories with which you are familiar, and there is a paper version you can download to compile your answers to submit later. It should take about an hour to compile the data. We are happy to receive your response in paper form; simply mail the paper copy to AIP Statistical Research Center / 1 Physics Ellipse / College Park, MD 20740.

Do I have to complete the survey? Why should I do it?
Your participation is entirely voluntary; you are not required to answer the survey. Your participation is critical because we currently have no reliable data on humanities education in two-year colleges, and we need to hear from everyone to be sure our data are truly representative.