In recognition of National Arts and Humanities Month, the National Humanities Alliance teamed up with the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA), and Americans for the Arts (AFTA) to host a briefing on Capitol Hill. The event was developed at the request of the Congressional Humanities Caucus, and our goal was to introduce staffers who are responsible for arts and humanities issues to the Endowments, as well as give them a brief glimpse of their impacts.
What’s your #1 piece of humanities advocacy advice?
We’ve asked conference participants who spend a chunk of their time advocating for the humanities what one piece of advice they would offer humanities advocates. Check out their sessions at the National Humanities Conference to learn more!
Over the last two years, our Humanities for All initiative has worked to document and promote publicly engaged humanities research, teaching, preservation, and programming in U.S. higher education. The initiative brings together over 1,500 examples, showcasing the range of humanities work conducted with and for communities by scholars at universities, colleges, and scholarly societies across the United States.
During National Arts and Humanities Month, we celebrate the power of coming together to discuss great books and big questions. Through our survey, we’ve learned that several institutions have recently launched humanities cohort programs, which guide a select group of students through a curated series of shared curricular and co-curricular learning experiences. We’ve been reaching out to program directors to learn how they designed programs to attract students hungry for community, facilitate experiential learning, and elevate the humanities on their campuses.
By supporting the preservation of cultural heritage at organizations across the U.S., the NEH works to ensure that their collections are accessible to the public. At the most basic level, NEH funding supports libraries and archives as they process important collections, enabling them to create the guides and databases that are crucial to researchers trying to access archival materials. NEH funding also helps organizations digitize collections, making collections like the Adams Family Papers, the Journals of Lewis and Clark, and Fox Movietone Newsreels accessible to anyone with an internet connection.
October is National Arts and Humanities Month, and we hope you will join us in taking this opportunity to raise the profile of humanities advocacy.
This past Tuesday, we joined forces with the University of Iowa to bring Iowa’s congressional staffers into conversation with 35 representatives from universities, museums, libraries, and archives. Hosted at the National Czech & Slovak Museum & Library (NCSML) in Cedar Rapids, the event was one in a series of in-district meetings intended to educate public officials on the value of the humanities to their communities.
You’re likely familiar with arguments about whether advocates for the humanities should invoke their vocational utility when making the case for the value of studying the humanities. Many point to the need to counter misleading tropes about the practicality of a humanities education in order to address prospective students’ and their families’ concerns. Others, such as Stanley Fish, contend that any such justification “involves a surrender to some measure or criterion external to the humanities.” But faculty who take it upon themselves to help students discern compelling applications of the skills they’ve gained through the humanities discover that such efforts actually enhance humanities education in its own right.
Update, September 26, 2019: Earlier today, the full Senate Appropriations Committee passed its FY 2020 Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies spending bill, which included a $2 million increase for the NEH over FY 2019. Also included in the bill were increases for the Smithsonian Institution and the National Park Service’s Historic Preservation Fund.
The Senate has been moving through the appropriations process at a far slower pace than the House. While the House passed 10 of its 12 appropriations bills before the August recess, the Senate has just begun releasing and considering bills over the past week. It is only in the past two days that we have begun to see the funding bills that include appropriations for humanities programs.