The Humanities, Arts, and CultureBack to table of contents
The humanities, arts, and culture are woven through virtually every Academy program, where artists and humanists add interdisciplinary breadth to projects in science, democracy, and security. However, the Academy also undertakes projects that put humanities, arts, and culture at the forefront, strengthening their practice and highlighting their importance to all aspects of the nation’s thriving intellectual life. These projects call attention to the role the arts and humanities play in enriching the growth and vitality of individuals, communities, and the nation.
Commission on the Arts
The Commission on the Arts was organized to reframe the national conversation about the role the arts play in a diverse twenty-first-century democracy, with a membership that spanned the cultural field and the geography of the United States. The work of the Commission was given added urgency by the COVID pandemic, which closed venues and institutions, disrupted arts education, and threatened both the lives and livelihoods of creative workers. The artists, scholars, institutional leaders, and community advocates on the Commission issued two reports, making the case for arts education and the need for better federal policies and institutional structures to support a strong and diverse creative economy. The recommendations in the reports have already been used in the development of legislative proposals on Capitol Hill, as well as in local initiatives from Maine to California. A Mixtape of digital contributions from Commission members and other artists as well as a crowdsourced poem, curated by cochair of the Commission and Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey, “Remix: For My People” (developed with PBS), supplemented the reports.
Actor and Author
Deborah F. Rutter
The John F. Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Author, Poet, and Naturalist
The University of Arizona
Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art
Jazz Trumpeter and Composer
First Peoples Fund
National Assembly of State Arts Agencies
Louise H. Bryson
Public Media Group of Southern California
National Institutes of Health
The J. Paul Getty Trust
New York University
The Public Theater
Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts
Theaster Gates, Jr.
School of the Art Institute of Chicago
Americans for the Arts
Vicky Holt Takamine
Pua Ali‘i ‘Ilim
University of Missouri
Angela La Porte
University of Arkansas
Composer and Conductor
Actress and Author
The Village of Arts and Humanities
Arts Management Professional and Artist
LGBTQ Victory Fund
Mwalim (Morgan James Peters)
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The University of Chicago
Arizona State University
Arts in a Changing America
Southern Methodist University National Center for Arts Research
Carrie Mae Weems
The Juilliard School
Asian Art Museum of San Francisco
The National Museum of African American History and Culture, Smithsonian Institution
Springboard for the Arts
Chief Program Officer
Louis W. Cabot Humanities Policy Fellow
Robert B. Townsend
The Barr Foundation
The Getty Foundation
The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation
The Kresge Foundation
Roger W. and Victoria P. † Sant
Art for Life’s Sake: The Case for Arts Education (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2021)
Art Is Work: Policies to Support Creative Workers (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2021)
Now What? An Action Plan for Advancing Arts Education
September 15, 2021
Distinguished artists and arts education advocates joined a discussion of the Art for Life’s Sake report at the closing plenary session of the 2021 Arts Education Partnership Virtual Gathering. Panelists shared their own personal experiences and ideas for reimagining more equitable arts education opportunities post-pandemic.
New Horizons: Elevating the Arts in American Life
October 27, 2021
In this celebration of arts, artists, and the work of the Commission on the Arts, Stephen Colbert interviewed Cochairs John Lithgow, Deborah Rutter, and Natasha Trethewey. The program included poetry, music, and a discussion of recommendations developed by the Commission to elevate the arts, support artists, and promote arts education in America. The event also introduced Mixtape, an online collection of arts experiences featuring members of the Commission and the Academy.
Congressional Briefing: The Value of Equitable Arts Education
December 9, 2021
In a wide-ranging briefing for members of Congress and their staff, experts on the value of arts education joined the Commission cochairs and two members of Congress to make the case for policies that will ensure access to the arts for every child in the nation’s schools.
Congressional Briefing: Supporting America’s Creative Workers
January 31, 2022
Three members of Congress joined the Commission cochairs and other experts on the importance of artists and the creative economy in a public discussion about ideal federal policies for the field.
The Humanities Indicators
The Humanities Indicators provide nonpartisan statistical information about all aspects of the humanities: from early childhood reading, through undergraduate and graduate education in the humanities, to employment and humanities experiences in daily life, such as reading and visits to museums. Now in its thirteenth year as a publicly available website, the project tracks the condition of the humanities enterprise via analyses of data gathered by the federal government as well as through its own rigorous survey research. The project is one of the most cited activities of the Academy, and journalists, advocates, government agencies, and academics regularly call on the project staff for information and their expertise. Building on the Indicators work, the Summer 2022 issue of Dædalus is dedicated to the humanities and the public, covering topics from the public humanities to the medical and environmental humanities.
Recent work has focused on outcomes for college graduates in the humanities at both the undergraduate and graduate level. The project is developing additional studies, including a survey of high school student attitudes about their encounters with humanities subjects and skills, a report on the state of the humanities in K–12 education, a study about public understanding of the term humanities, an examination of the salaries of humanities faculty relative to other fields, as well as a separate survey of humanities departments about their situation post-COVID. The Humanities Indicators are accessible at www.amacad.org/humanities-indicators.
Norman M. Bradburn
NORC at the University of Chicago
Robert B. Townsend
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Louis W. Cabot Humanities Policy Fellow
University of Richmond
American Institutes for Research
Jonathan R. Cole
American Council of Learned Societies
American Association for State and Local History
New York University
Felice J. Levine
American Educational Research Association
Federation of State Humanities Councils
Stony Brook University
Carl H. Pforzheimer III
The Humanities Indicators was developed with generous support from the National Endowment for the Humanities; Elihu Rose and the Madison Charitable Fund; John P. Birkelund; Peck Stackpoole Foundation; Rockefeller Foundation; Sara Lee Foundation; Teagle Foundation; Walter B. Hewlett and the William R. Hewlett Trust; and William and Flora Hewlett Foundation.
State of the Humanities 2022: From Graduate Education to the Workforce (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2022)
State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2021)
The Humanities in American Life: Insights from a Survey of the Public’s Attitudes & Engagement (American Academy of Arts and Sciences, 2020)
Project Meetings and Presentations
The Public and the Humanities
The Humanities Indicators hosted a series of online conversations with authors in the Summer 2022 issue of Dædalus on “The Humanities in American Life,” assessing evidence of public engagement with the humanities as well as changes in the field that address emerging public questions and concerns.
National Humanities Conference
November 3, 4, and 12, 2021
Members of the Indicators staff participated in conversations about the state of the humanities.
The Afterlife of the Humanities Major
November 9, 2021
The Academy and the National Humanities Center cohosted an online discussion about what becomes of humanities majors after graduation and how colleges might assist them in their transition into the workforce. The conversation featured the perspectives of both academia and industry and drew on the Indicators report, The State of the Humanities 2021: Workforce & Beyond.
Advisory Committee Meeting
January 20, 2022
At the annual meeting of the Humanities Indicators Advisory Committee, the participants reviewed a draft report on graduate education and assessed plans for future publications and research by project staff.
University of Iowa, School of Humanities
February 17, 2022
Project Codirector Robert Townsend presented on career outcomes and challenges for students who majored in the humanities and discussed emerging trends in the field.
Council of Graduate Schools Quarterly Research and Policy Forum
March 17, 2022
Project Codirector Robert Townsend presented a preview of the Indicators report on the state of graduate education in the humanities to researchers and other specialists in the subject.
University of Georgia, Willson Center for Humanities & Arts
April 12, 2022
Project Codirector Robert Townsend presented a survey of the state of the humanities to students, faculty, and administrators.
American Council of Learned Societies Annual Meeting
April 28–29, 2022
Members of the Indicators staff participated in discussions about the state of the field and distributed copies of recent reports from the project.
University of Arizona, College of Humanities, Humanities Leadership Summit
May 4, 2022
Project Codirector Robert Townsend presented an overview of data about the state of the humanities and participated in discussions about future directions for the field.