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Academy Humanities Initiative Receives Major NEH Grant


Press Release

President Patricia Meyer Spacks of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences today announced the establishment of a $2.5 million fund that will launch the Academy's effort to improve the position of the humanities in America. A grant of $600,000 from the National Endowment for the Humanities–one of the largest made this year by the federal agency-will provide the seed money for a fund to support fellowships in the humanities, an active lecture series, and ongoing investigations into the state of the humanities.

According to Senator Edward M. Kennedy, a champion of the humanities and an Academy Fellow:
This funding will go a long way in both sustaining and supporting the integral research that the American Academy of Arts and Sciences contributes to the humanities. So much of what we hold dear as Americans has been touched by the Academy, and with this funding, it can continue to do some of this country's greatest work. The Academy's passion for the humanities, combined with its nonpartisan studies on international security and education, are one of America's treasures.

"This grant," stated Leslie Cohen Berlowitz, Executive Officer of the Academy, "confirms the Academy's role as one of the country's major centers for research in the humanities. We are grateful to the NEH for not only affirming the significance of the Academy's work in the humanities, but also for enabling us to increase resources for an emerging generation of scholars."

The Academy's initiative has received widespread support from educators, including the presidents and chancellors of 41 colleges and universities. As University Affiliates, they provide financial and institutional assistance to the Academy. The initiative will also draw on the research of the Academy's Fellows, both in the social sciences and the humanities.

The Initiative encompasses four major components:
  • Fostering research by the Academy's Fellows and other experts into the history of the humanities, with recommendations for possible improvements to the national humanities infrastructure.

  • Launching an unprecedented ten-year effort to create more data for the humanities – the Humanities Indicators – that will dramatically improve the information available about the general state of the humanities.

  • Creating resources for younger scholars and new research through the Academy's Visiting Scholars Program.

  • Expanding public knowledge of the humanities through symposia, meetings, and lectures.

Among the distinguished Fellows who have contributed to the humanities initiative are Steven Marcus of Columbia University; DenisDonoghue of New York University; Stephen Raudenbush of the University of Michigan; Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies; Francis Oakley, the former President of Williams College; and Nobel-prize laureate economist Robert Solow of M.I.T.

The Academy has long been a recognized leader in the humanities. It was largely responsible for the establishment of the National Humanities Centerin 1970s, and played a key role in the creation of other national institutions such as the Independent Research Library Association and the American Council of Learned Societies.

The Academy was founded in 1780 by John Adams and other scholar-patriots "to cultivate every art and science which may tend to advance the interest, honor, dignity, and happiness of a free, independent, and virtuous people." Its current membership of over 3,900 Fellows and 600 Foreign Honorary Members includes more than 150 Nobel laureates and 50 Pulitzer Prize winners. Drawing on the wide-ranging expertise of its membership, the American Academy conducts thoughtful, innovative, nonpartisan studies on international security, American institutions, education, and the humanities.


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