Did You Know? Classics Departments and Programs Are Disappearing

The study of the ancient Greek and Roman civilizations through their languages, literature, and history the study of Classics—is part of the bedrock of a rigorous university education. While some may believe the Classics are not of any particular importance today, the study of Classics allows students to more fully understand the ancient roots of the Western world. 

Yet Classics departments or programs in universities around the country world are going extinct. Faced with tightened budgets due to the pandemic, university boards and leaders have been forced to make difficult decisions. 

Several have decided that the Classics departments at their schools are simply too expensive to maintain. The following universities have axed their Classics departments:

  • Carthage College 
  • Howard University 

The universities that have phased out their Classics program include:

  • Canisius College
  • Elmira College
  • Calvin University
  • Illinois Wesleyan University
  • Saint Peter’s University
  • Valparaiso University

Notably, Howard University’s decision to shutter its Classics department means that there are now no distinct Classics departments at any historically black colleges or universities in the United States. Howard University’s Classics department has been a part of the education at the university since its inception. The reaction to this decision has been overwhelmingly negative

Universities and colleges in the 21st century are moving farther from an important goal of higher education: to instill in students a well-rounded understanding of the world and their place in it. Instead, students are often directionless, simply checking Classes off their to-do list in order to graduate. While Classics may not directly relate to a job after graduation, studying them can help students become dutiful citizens who have a common understanding of society and their place in it. Without the Classics, something valuable is missing in students’ educations.

While many Classics departments still exist, the tide appears to be shifting. If this continues, it will be a great loss to both students and society at large.

Grace Hall is an intern at the Martin Center and works and lives in Georgia.