Press Release

American Academy of Arts & Sciences Hosts Regional Hearing on the Humanities & Social Sciences


National Commission seeks recommendations from New England’s State Humanities Councils in preparation for report to Congress


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – Members of a national commission, charged by Congress to find ways for the United States to maintain national excellence in the humanities and social sciences, are coming to Cambridge, MA for a forum with members of New England’s state Humanities Councils. Created by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences will be gathering information on best practices and innovations from the states in promoting the humanities.

The forum, The Humanities and Civil Society, will take place on Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at the House of the Academy in Cambridge, MA.

The goal of the Commission is to claim a space in the national dialogue for the humanities and the social sciences and to recommend specific steps that government, schools and universities, cultural institutions, businesses, and philanthropies can take to support and strengthen these areas of knowledge.

The New England Forum is an important part of the Commission’s outreach. Testimony will provide Commission members with a new understanding of the programs supported by the State Humanities Councils. Similar sessions will take place throughout the country this summer and fall.

“An educated citizenry is the wellspring of a strong democracy,” said Leslie C. Berlowitz, President of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences. “This forum provides an opportunity to focus on how we can ensure that Americans develop the skills and competencies required for full civic participation—the skills and competencies fostered by the humanities and social sciences.”

Members of the Academy’s Commission taking part in the New England forum include:

  • Annette Gordon-Reed, Professor of Law, Professor of History, Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, Harvard University
  • Phil Bredesen, Jr., former Governor of Tennessee
  • Richard B. Freeman, Professor of Economics, Harvard University
  • Leslie C. Berlowitz, President, American Academy of Arts & Sciences

The forum will feature three panels covering the topics:


  • Literacy, Civics, and Citizenship
  • Cultural Heritage and Economic Development
  • K-12 Enrichment and Lifelong Learning

Panelists include representatives from State Humanities Councils in Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Connecticut as well as teachers, jurists, state policy makers, and state legislators.

“The Commission is eager to learn what the New England states are doing that could be incorporated elsewhere in the country, or perhaps even scaled up to a national level. We’re confident their input will stimulate a lot of productive discussion and ideas,” added Berlowitz.

About the American Academy of Arts & Sciences: Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences ( is an independent policy research center that conducts multidisciplinary studies of complex and emerging problems. Current Academy research focuses on the humanities, arts, and education; science and technology policy; global security and energy; and American institutions and the public good. With headquarters in Cambridge, Massachusetts, the Academy’s work is advanced by its 4,600 elected members, who are leaders in the academic disciplines, the arts, business, and public affairs from around the world.





Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Richard H. Brodhead and John W. Rowe