Last spring the departments of Philosophy and History of ideas suggested a new Masters programme at Lund University. It was supposed to be a Master of modern western thought. The validation process was terminated due to insufficient material about the employability of students who’d enter this program.

This has raised a number of concerns amongst the population. And when I say population I mean well established professors in  the humanities. They fear the risk of loosing the great Humboldt ideal that universities should exist outside the rest of society as a reserve of knowledge and education. Preferably it should exist outside the normal space-time continuum.

Several of these professors seem to think that just because students want to have a future after graduation, they no longer get a fully qualified education.  ”It is not our place” they say. But they give no answer to what these students are supposed to do with their education…

The professors behind the article linked above, or the people in the tv show that spawned the debate never stopped to ask the students. Students that were present when the decision to drop ”Modern western thought” was made. And most of all – the students that are the victims of their agenda.

The faculties of humanities and theology where the Masters programme would have run currently educate around 3 500 students. An educated guess is that some 2000 students apply to courses at a basic level in a subject at the faculties each year. A good year 10 can be accepted as grad students. That means some 1990 students are not going to do research and need another future.

To not consider the future of all those students when building an educational structure for them is irresponsible bordering on reckless. Those who apply deserve to be able to rely on that their teachers have thought about them. An education doesn’t exist to satisfy the teachers, but the students. For them to think anything else is just arrogant.

Further, if you believe that classical education and critical thought is important to society – and I agree with the professors in that it is – then society has a need for people with those skills. Students of modern western thought are most likely employable, because society need their knowledge and therefore is willing to pay for it. And with just a little more thought about how those skills can be applied, the students will have no problem getting employed. And the departments can write that down – and thus the program can get validated.