Majoring in Fear: The Decline of the Humanities among College Students Facing an Uncertain Future

Nov 14 2014 12—1:30pm
Gavin House
1220 E 58th St.
Chicago, IL 60637
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Mark Shiffman

Villanova University


a luncheon discussion with
Mark Shiffman (Villanova University)


More than a decade ago, David Brooks coined “organization kids” to describe a generation of America’s elite university students driven from early childhood toward a nearly certain goal: success. Today, these students are not as confident that success is inevitable. They are often beleaguered by the fear that all of their effort and achievement won’t be enough. This anxiety has led to a steady decline in humanities majors across the country. In this discussion, Prof. Shiffman will make a case for the humanities as an antidote to this anxiety and will discuss the importance of asking life’s fundamental questions in a University education.

Students are encouraged to read Prof. Shiffman’s short piece from First Things as a preface to the discussion. Lunch will be provided.

1:00pm   Lunch
1:20pm   Remarks by Prof. Shiffman
1:40pm   Discussion
2:30pm   Adjourn

This event is open to all university students.
Others interested in attending, please contact

Mark Shiffman is Chair of the Humanities Department and Classical Studies Program at Villanova University. He holds a B.A. from St. John’s College, Annapolis and a Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. His research interests include Ethics, Social and Political Theory, Ancient Philosophy, Metaphysics, and Philosophical Themes in Literature. Prof. Shiffman is the translator of Aristotle’s De Anima (Focus Books) and Descartes’ Rules for the Direction of the Mind (Saint Augustine’s Press, forthcoming), and has published on Plato, Aristotle, Plutarch, Augustine, William of Ockham, John Locke, Simone Weil, Ralph Ellison, Wendell Berry and Rémi Brague.