Humanities Indicators
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Introduction to Survey on Humanities in Community Colleges

With funding under a cooperative agreement with the National Endowment for the Humanities, the Indicators initiated a national census survey on the humanities in public community colleges in late 2017. 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 recent 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 first 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 the country was invited to participate in the online survey, with data collection beginning in March 2017. Data tabulations, cleaning, and national estimates were developed in the winter and spring of 2018, with the expectation that a final report will be issued in winter 2019. The goal of this report would be to make policy-makers and the public aware of the size and scope of the humanities enterprise in community colleges.