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Make Humanities Accountable

Dan Tortorice’s piece “Three Problems for MIT” [Apr. 19] is most provocative, and it raises issues that have been recurrent for me since I came to teach the “Amenities” way back in 1964. Fact is, regardless of the relatively comparative “demandingness” of the varying disciplines, most Humanities subjects simply have too few moments of rigorous accountability, compared with Science Engineering “core” subjects. If HASS subjects had (at least weekly) moments of true accountability comparable to those in the science/tech “core,” they might well be accorded more “respect” than is now the case. And as for being “well-rounded,” allow me to quote one of my EECS colleagues as saying, “Show me a ‘well-rounded’ academic enterprise, and I’ll show you one with no cutting edge!”

Travis R. Merritt
Professor of Literature
Director, Experimental Study Group