The humanities are embattled in today’s universities—student enrollments are declining, faculty are cut, and job prospects for new PhDs are dim. Calls to justify humanities scholarship emanate from inside and outside the academy. Yet, even when numbers affirm the value of a humanistic education, humanists are often hard-pressed to make their case.
The recent controversy surrounding changes to the AP World History curriculum shed light on the challenges facing educators who try to tackle the pedagogical problems associated with world history, including the lingering influence of Eurocentrism and the daunting task of covering 10,000 years of human history in a meaningful way.
Universities are bastions of inquiry, where ideas are both nurtured and challenged. But what should we do when the freedom to speak and debate conflicts with the need to provide a safe learning environment? How do we cope with ideologies we find intolerable and speakers who seek to inflame our communities?