For the first time since 2015, the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies requested public witness testimonies on the impact of NEH and NEA funding. We were pleased to see this request for testimony and also to advance Jessica Unger, emergency programs coordinator at the Foundation for Advancement in Conservation, as a public witness to testify on behalf of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She was accepted, and this morning had the opportunity to testify on the many ways the NEH has supported efforts to save cultural heritage in the face of disaster.
As the debate on immigration policy continues, NEH’s Common Heritage program is capturing stories of how Americans came to this country and made a home for themselves—whether they came from Germany or Korea, 200 years ago or 20, seeking opportunity or refuge.
Earlier this afternoon, President Trump signed the omnibus funding bill that finalized FY19 funding for a range of humanities programs. Under the bill, the NEH will receive a $2 million increase on FY18, marking the fourth consecutive increase for the agency. The National Historical Publications and Records Commission will receive level funding of $6 million, as it had in both House and Senate bills. The Historic Preservation Fund at the National Park Service will see a robust jump (from $96.9 million to $102.6 million), largely due to the inclusion of funding for Save America’s Treasures grants to preserve “nationally significant sites, structures, and artifacts.”
On May 15, 2019, Remembering Emmett Till by Dave Tell of the University of Kansas will be published by the University of Chicago Press. The book is the product of both publicly engaged scholarship—the Emmett Till Memory Project (ETMP)—and years of research and writing supported in part by the National Endowment for the Humanities. Tell’s experience shows how public engagement and publishing can go hand in hand.
As we celebrate Black History Month, it is important to remember not only storied civil rights leaders, but the countless courageous “foot soldiers” who made the Civil Rights Movement happen. Since 2004, the NEH and the Alabama Humanities Foundation have supported a summer workshop, Stony the Road We Trod, which introduces K-12 teachers to surviving veterans of the movement. In doing so, the workshop ensures that their stories—of extraordinary courage by ordinary people—will reach students in classrooms across the country for years to come.
At the University of Illinois at Chicago, Ömür Harmanşah asks his students to review the Humanities for All website in his “The Politics of Archaeology and Heritage in the Middle East” course. The goal is to provide an overview of the publicly engaged humanities and to reflect on the role of the humanities in addressing pressing global issues. At the University of Pittsburgh, Dan Kubis assigns the Humanities for All website in his “Public Humanities Seminar.” Exploration of the site served as the basis for a virtual meeting with NHA Deputy Director Beatrice Gurwitz and Humanities for All Project Director Daniel Fisher, discussing publicly engaged humanities work and how to make the case for the humanities in higher education.
As the partial government shutdown moves into its fourth week, the National Endowment for the Humanities remains closed. We have had a number of conversations with NEH grantees and applicants who are concerned about the status of the agency and upcoming deadlines. At this point, here is what we know:
As the possibility of a partial government shutdown looms, we want to shed some light on which humanities programs will be affected if the government cannot reach a funding agreement by midnight tonight. While FY19 funding for some agencies has already been passed by Congress and signed by the president, those agencies whose funding has not yet been finalized will be shut down, including the NEH and several other humanities programs.