Press Release

Leading philanthropies support American Academy’s Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences


CAMBRIDGE, Mass. – The American Academy of Arts and Sciences has received support from two of the country’s leading philanthropic organizations to help advance the work of the national Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

Grants of $277,000 from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and $275,000 from Carnegie Corporation of New York will promote the Commission’s goal of recommending specific steps that government, schools and universities, cultural institutions, businesses, and philanthropic organizations can take to strengthen the humanities and social sciences, which include history, literature, civics, geography, and languages.

Commission Co-chair Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke University, said the humanities and social sciences provide the intellectual framework for the nation’s economic, political, and governing institutions. “The humanities are not a specialized taste but the root of the most basic human and civic competencies.”

The Commission is co-chaired by John W. Rowe, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exelon Corporation, and comprised of national leaders from the full range of humanities and social science disciplines, as well as scientists, engineers, leading business executives, philanthropists, jurists, artists, and journalists. (See the list of Commission Members).

“We are grateful to the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and Carnegie Corporation of New York,” said American Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz. “Their support allows the Commission to move forward with its examination of disciplines critical to the functioning of our democracy, to individual fulfillment, and to our ability to compete in a global economy.”

The American Academy formed the Commission at the request of a bipartisan group of members of Congress. The specific charge to the Academy is to prepare a report that answers the question: “What are the top ten actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors, and others should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?”

The Commission is drawing on past Academy research, data from the Academy’s Humanities Indicators, and the experience and expertise of its members.

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Founded in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences is a non-partisan policy research center and international learned society dedicated to intellectual leadership across the nation and around the world. Current Academy projects include initiatives for science, engineering, and technology; international security; American institutions; the humanities and social sciences; and higher education.

The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation
The Foundation supports work in the humanities and the arts through grants to colleges and universities, performing arts organizations, museums, libraries, and other institutions committed to sustaining and renewing the contributions of these fields to culture and society. Since its inception in 1969, the Foundation has held to the practice of making grants to a modest number of distinguished institutions that it treats as long-term collaborators, worthy of substantial grants that respond to needs and aspirations they articulate themselves. The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation has long been recognized for its support of equal opportunity in higher education; in recent years, its emphasis on the arts and humanities has also distinguished it among national foundations. It currently makes grants in five core program areas: Higher Education and Scholarship; Scholarly Communications and Information Technology; Museums and Art Conservation; Performing Arts; Conservation and the Environment.

Carnegie Corporation of New York
Andrew Carnegie envisioned Carnegie Corporation as a foundation that would “promote the advancement and diffusion of knowledge and understanding.” In keeping with this mandate, the organization’s work incorporates an affirmation of its historic role as an education foundation but also honors Andrew Carnegie's passion for international peace and the health of our democracy. While Mr. Carnegie’s primary aim was to benefit the people of the United States, he later determined to use a portion of the funds for members of the British overseas Commonwealth. Currently, this area of the corporation’s grant-making focuses on selected countries in sub-Saharan Africa.




Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Richard H. Brodhead and John W. Rowe