Creating free thinkers and global citizens
28th October 2010
Harvard University tops the arts and humanities subject ranking in a year in which its president, Drew Gilpin Faust, called on higher education institutions across the globe to protect the discipline from budget cuts.
In a speech at the Royal Irish Academy in July, Faust pointed to China as a country that is expanding its humanities output while many others are cutting provision in favour of science-based subjects.
Although not a single Asian university made the top 50 in arts and humanities for 2010-11, it is possible that investment in the field by Chinese institutions will pay off in the rankings in the years to come.
The only institution to break the European and North American monopoly over the top 20 is the Australian National University (14th place). The top-ranked institution in continental Europe is Leiden University, the oldest university in the Netherlands (founded in 175). Leiden - whose mottoe translates as "Bastion of Liberty" - was established on the principles of "freedom of belief and religion", creating an environment in which the philosophers Spinoza and Descartes thrived.
A nunber of leading universities are priortising investment in liberal arts, both to meet employers' demands and to create well-rounded graduates and global citizens able to think on their feet.
University College London, in 10th place, is planning to launch a liberal arts degree in 2012.