Press Release

Commission Forum: the Humanities and Social Sciences and International Relations, National Security, and Global Competitiveness


National Commission seeks recommendations from leaders in foreign policy, national defense, international diplomacy in preparation for report to Congress

STANFORD, Calif. – 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 Stanford University for a forum with renowned leaders in the areas of foreign policy, national defense, international diplomacy, and foreign language study. Created by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences will be gathering information on best practices, innovations, and ideas to strengthen and promote the humanities and social sciences in the United States and better understand how they strengthen our standing in the world.

The forum, The Humanities & Social Sciences for International Relations, National Security, and Global Competitiveness, will take place on Tuesday, September 4, 2012 at Stanford University.

Condoleezza Rice, former U.S. Secretary of State , William Perry, former U.S. Secretary of Defense, and Karl Eikenberry, former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and Retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General, will be join a panel to discuss these pertinent issues. John L Hennessy, President of Stanford University and Leslie C. Berlowitz, President of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, will provide opening remarks.

Other participants include: George P. Shultz, former U.S. Secretary of State, Stephen D. Bechtel, Jr., Chairman Retired and Director of Bechtel Group, Robert D. Haas, chairman emeritus and past CEO of Levi Strauss & Co., and Pulitzer prize-winning historian David M. Kennedy.

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.

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

Leaders in American foreign policy and international relations will be on hand to lead discussions with Commission members regarding the United States’ powerful presence in the world. As one nation in a community of nations, cooperation in a global economy – and competition – requires an understanding of cultural diversity and sensitivity to different perspectives. To maintain the nation’s international stature, all stakeholders must support programs and policies that encourage widespread education about the world and its peoples.

To advance these goals, the Commission’s report will include a series of recommendations intended to advance education and training in area studies, foreign languages, and international relations.

The Stanford forum is an important part of the Commission’s outreach. Discussion will provide Commission members with a new understanding of how the humanities factor into international relations on all levels. Similar sessions on the value of the humanities are taking place throughout the country this summer and fall.

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



  • John Hennessy: President, Stanford University
  • Louise H. Bryson: Chair Emerita, J. Paul Getty Trust
  • Leslie C. Berlowitz: President, American Academy of Arts & Sciences

A forum was held in July at the American Academy’s headquarters in Cambridge, MA and focused on the Humanities and Civil Society, centering on K-12 and lifelong learning, literacy, and cultural economic development. Commission members will attend future forums scheduled for St. Louis, Miami, and New York.

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