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American Academy's Humanities Indicators Project Receives Hewlett Foundation Grant

1/8/2003

Press Release

Wednesday, January 08, 2003 – The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has received a $750,000 grant from The William and Flora Hewlett Foundation to advance the Academy's work on statistical indicators for the humanities as part of its Initiative for Humanities and Culture. The grant will be used to improve data collection about the humanities and American education, to strengthen the research infrastructure on the humanities, and to create new research tools to improve our understanding of the state of the liberal arts and knowledge more generally.

Modeled on the National Science Foundation's Science and Engineering Indicators, the Humanities Indicators will eventually provide much-needed information about the humanities workforce, the importance of humanities studies to American education and civic life, and the future of humanities education. The co-chairs of the Academy Committee on Humanities Indicators are Francis Oakley, president emeritus of Williams College and interim president of the American Council of Learned Societies; Stephen Raudenbush, professor of education and statistics at the University of Michigan; and Kenneth Prewitt, Visiting Scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation and former director of the United States Census Bureau.

Commenting on the Hewlett grant, Leslie Berlowitz, Chief Executive Officer of the American Academy, said: "In order for any field to understand its current health, it needs to understand trends. The science and engineering communities have this kind of planning data, but there is almost a total absence of information of this type for the humanities disciplines. The Academy is pleased that the Hewlett Foundation recognizes how vital these statistics are for the humanities community as well."

The Academy is working in partnership with a consortium of leading nonprofit organizations in the humanities and higher education, including the Association of American Universities, the American Council of Learned Societies, and the National Humanities Alliance. The Hewlett grant will assist this group as it works to design guidelines for collecting humanities data that can be adopted by scholarly and professional organizations, public humanities organizations, and national educational groups. The development of such a template will allow the professions to collect data consistently and compare these data across their respective fields.

The grant will also advance the Academy's plans to commission a model series of research studies that draws on datasets from the National Center for Education Statistics at the U. S. Department of Education. These papers will address concerns about the quality of the liberal arts and the humanities in education, including enrollments, course-taking patterns, and school and university staffing.

The Academy will also explore the possibility of creating new databases that follow humanities graduates in the labor market. At present, no existing database tracks the career choices of those who hold undergraduate or master's degrees in the humanities. New, consistent information would permit comparisons to be made among the humanities, social sciences, and science disciplines.

The Hewlett Foundation, incorporated as a private foundation in the State of California in 1966, was established by the late Palo Alto industrialist William R. Hewlett, his wife, Flora Lamson Hewlett, and their eldest son, Walter B. Hewlett. The Foundation's broad purpose is to promote the well-being of humanity by supporting selected activities of a charitable nature, as well as organizations or institutions engaged in such activities.

The Academy's Initiative for Humanities and Culture was established to improve understanding of the state of the humanities and to provide a framework for examining their significance to our national culture. It will develop analyses and data to enable scholars and policy makers to examine the history and outcome of these transitions and develop resources and policies that will advance the humanities in the 21st century.

The American 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." The current membership of over 3,700 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 Academy conducts thoughtful, innovative, non-partisan studies on international security, social policy, education, and the humanities.

 

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