Reincarnation or extinction of humanities in the digital age?

Daniel Apollon
Project Director, EuroLiterature
Educational Information Technology Research Programme (EIST)
University of Bergen
Hermann Fossgt. 6, N-5020 Bergen, Norway

The Humanities constitute the historical core of higher and secondary education in Europe. However, as a consequence of the industrial revolution, followed by the information revolution, natural sciences and technology have acquired the centre-stage in universities and research institutions at the expense of the Humanities. The latter tend to be perceived by politicians, future students, and the general public as less useful, despite many official declarations on the need to focus on cultural and linguistic education. Indeed, some pessimitic observers start to envisage the perspective of an irreversible decline, even extinction in some institutions of humanities education.

The changing status of Humanities education in universities and other institutions of higher education actualizes a possible conflict between classical ideals in European education and the ongoing restructuring of European educational systems as instrument of professionalisation. The impact of the information revolution on Humanities education and its possible perspectives for future strategies can be summarized along the following issues: