Humanities teach students to think. Where would we be without them?
本文选自 The Guardian | 取经号原创翻译
Humanities departments in America are once again being axed. The reasons, one hears, are economic rather than ideological. It’s not that schools don’t care about the humanities – they just can’t afford them. But if one looks at these institutions’ priorities, one finds a hidden ideology at work.
axe /æks/ to get rid of a plan, system, or service, especially in order to save money （尤指为省钱）砍掉，取消，废止
Earlier this month, the State University of New York (Suny) Stony Brook announced a plan to eliminate several of the college’s well-regarded departments for budgetary reasons. Undergraduates will no longer be able to major in comparative literature, cinema and cultural studies or theater arts.
Three doctoral programs would be cut, and three departments (European languages and literature, Hispanic languages and literature, and cultural studies) would be merged into one. Not only students but faculty will be affected; many untenured teachers would lose their jobs, and doctoral candidates would have to finish their studies elsewhere.
This is happening at a time in which high salaries are awarded to college administrators that dwarf those of a junior or even senior faculty member teaching in at-risk departments. That discrepancy can only be explained through ideology. The decision to reduce education to a corporate consumer-driven model, providing services to the student-client, is ideological too.
dwarf /dwɔːf dwɔːrf/ v.make (sb/sth) seem small by contrast or distance 使（某人[某物]）相比之下显得小
Suny Stony Brook is spending millions on a multiyear program entitled “Far Beyond” that is intended to “rebrand” the college’s image: a redesigned logo and website, new signs, banners and flags throughout the campus. Do colleges now care more about how a school looks and markets itself than about what it teaches? Has the university become a theme park: Collegeland, churning out workers trained to fill particular niches? Far beyond what?
石溪大学投资数百万，支持一个名为 “超越”的多年项目。该项目旨在重塑该校的形象： 校标和网站经过重新设计，学校遍布新指示牌、横幅和旗帜。难道如今的大学比起传授知识更在乎学校形象和品牌营销？难道大学已经变成了“大学乐园”的主题公园，批量生产为填补特定市场空缺的员工？究竟要超越什么？
churn out produce something at a fast rate大量炮制
niche /niːʃ, nɪtʃ nɪtʃ, niːʃ/ v. shallow recess, esp in a wall （浅的）凹处; （尤指）壁龛
The threat of cuts that Suny Stony Brook is facing is not entirely new. In 2010, Suny Albany announced that it was getting rid of its Russian, classics, theater, French and Italian departments – a decision later rescinded. The University of Pittsburgh has cut its German, classics and religious studies program.
This problem has parallels internationally. In the UK, protests greeted Middlesex University’s 2010 decision to phase out its philosophy department. In June 2015, the Japanese minister of education sent a letter to the presidents of the national universities of Japan, suggesting they close their graduate and undergraduate departments in the humanities and social sciences and focus on something more practical.
Most recently, the Hungarian government announced restrictions that would essentially make it impossible for the Central European University, funded by George Soros, to function in Budapest.
These are hard times. Students need jobs when they graduate. But a singular opportunity has been lost if they are denied the opportunity to study foreign languages, the classics, literature, philosophy, music, theater and art. When else in their busy lives will they get that chance?
Eloquent defenses of the humanities have appeared – essays explaining why we need these subjects, what their loss would mean. Those of us who teach and study are aware of what these areas of learning provide: the ability to think critically and independently; to tolerate ambiguity; to see both sides of an issue; to look beneath the surface of what we are being told; to appreciate the ways in which language can help us understand one another more clearly and profoundly – or, alternately, how language can conceal and misrepresent. They help us learn how to think, and they equip us to live in – to sustain – a democracy.
eloquent /ˈeləkwənt/ a. expressing what you mean using clear and effective language 有说服力的
Studying the classics and philosophy teaches students where we come from, and how our modes of reasoning have evolved over time. Learning foreign languages, and about other cultures, enables students to understand how other societies resemble or differ from our own. Is it entirely paranoid to wonder if these subjects are under attack because they enable students to think in ways that are more complex than the reductive simplifications so congenial to our current political and corporate discourse?
resemble /rɪˈzembəl/ v. be like or similar to (another person or thing) 与（他人或他物）相似; 像…
I don’t believe that the humanities can make you a decent person. We know that Hitler was an ardent Wagner fan and had a lively interest in architecture. But literature, art and music can focus and expand our sense of what humans can accomplish and create. The humanities teach us about those who have gone before us; a foreign language brings us closer to those with whom we share the planet.
我不相信人文学科就会使人变得正派。 我们知道希特勒是瓦格纳的忠实拥趸，也对建筑也有着浓厚的兴趣。 但文学、艺术和音乐可以集中和扩大我们的感知，让我们了解人类可以完成和创造什么。人文学科能使我们了解我们的先人; 一门外语能拉近生活在同一个星球上人们之间的距离。
The humanities can touch those aspects of consciousness that we call intellect and heart – organs seemingly lacking among lawmakers whose views on health care suggest not only zero compassion but a poor understanding of human experience, with its crises and setbacks.
Courses in the humanities are as formative and beneficial as the classes that will replace them. Instead of Shakespeare or French, there will be (perhaps there already are) college classes in how to trim corporate spending – courses that instruct us to eliminate “frivolous” programs of study that might actually teach students to think.
formative /ˈfɔːmətɪv ˈfɔːr-/ a. having an important and lasting influence on the development of sb’s character 对某人的性格的形成有重要长期影响的
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