As many national commissions and observers have noted, the past forty years have brought unprecedented declines in humanities enrollments and programs in U.S. higher education. These changes are particularly striking in the iconic academic heart of the enterprise, the four-year college sector, where many institutions have diversified curricular offerings well beyond their historic roots in the liberal arts. Colleges have significantly varied, however, in the extent of their retreat from the traditional core curriculum. What factors, then, are associated with maintaining earlier established academic norms in this organizational field? This analysis of four-year colleges’ humanities degree production investigates several propositions, concluding that deeper institutionalization and stronger financial resources have been especially important in constraining schools’ retreat from the humanities over recent decades. Examination of time-based interaction effects suggests notable evolution in the role of religious affiliation and gender in humanities degree production over the period. Implications of the findings for research and policy are considered.


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pp. 387-416
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