Die Krise der Geisteswissenschaften

NEW YORK – In den weltweiten Debatten über die Zukunft der Hochschulausbildung ist eine bemerkenswerte Symmetrie zu erkennen. Einerseits wächst die Besorgnis, dass die Vereinigten Staaten und viele europäische Länder nicht in der Lage sind, genug Universitätsabgänger in Fächern wie Ingenieurswesen und Informationstechnologie zu produzieren, die die „Wissensökonomie“ des 21. Jahrhunderts antreiben. Diese Angst hat dazu geführt, dass das Konzept der Ausbildung zunehmend nur noch mit der Aneignung praktischer Fähigkeiten gleichgesetzt wird.

Andererseits besteht in einigen Teilen Asiens die Sorge, dass junge Menschen, die mit guter technischer Ausbildung auf den Arbeitsmarkt drängen, zu wenig „um die Ecke denken“ können. Dies führt zu neuen Bemühungen, die Ausbildung dahin gehend zu erweitern, dass sie die Kultivierung der Gefühle und Imagination umfasst.

Beide Tendenzen wurzeln in wirtschaftlichen Überlegungen. In den USA, wo die meisten Vordiplomanden zumindest einen Teil der Kosten ihrer Universitätsausbildung selbst tragen, wächst der politische Druck, Studenten der Wissenschaft, der Technik, des Ingenieurswesens und der Mathematik Anreize wie Schulungsrabatte oder Schuldenerlass zu gewähren. Cost-cutting measures, such as compressing traditional four-year degree programs into three years – thereby reducing or eliminating elective courses in “impractical” subjects like literature, philosophy, and fine arts – are also being discussed.

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