The Heart of the Matter: Around the Country

"The Heart of the Matter" around the Country

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Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences


The Humanities in the Digital Age

Stanford, California

Inspired by the recommendations of The Heart of the Matter, “The Humanities in the Digital Age” explored the future of digital research and teaching. Moderator Richard Saller (Vernon R. and Lysbeth Warren Anderson Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences and Kleinheinz Family Professor of European Studies, Stanford University) was joined by Stanford faculty members Joshua Cohen (Martha Sutton Weeks Professor of Ethics in Society and Professor of Political Science, Philosophy, and Law), Michael A. Keller (Ida M. Green University Librarian; Publisher, Stanford University Press and HighWire Press), Franco Moretti (Danily C. and Laura Louise Bell Professor and Professor of English and Comparative Literature), and Elaine Treharne (Roberta Bowman Denning Professor of Humanities and Professor of English, and, by Courtesy, of German Studies). Following the program, which took place at the Stanford Faculty Club, other faculty and students displayed their own work in a digital poster show. Video from this event is available at

Commission member Louise Bryson with a student from Stanford University at a digital poster show.

National Council on Public History Annual Meeting

Monterey, California

This roundtable used The Heart of the Matter to spur a conversation with public humanists and public historians about the status of the humanities in society and in universities, challenging the report’s assumptions and situating it within the history of the public humanities movement. The event was facilitated by Briann Greenfield (Executive Director, New Jersey Council for the Humanities), and the participants included Nancy Conner (Director of Grants, Indiana Humanities), Ralph Lewin (President and Chief Executive Officer, Cal Humanities), Mary Rizzo (Assistant Professor of Professional Practice and Associate Director of Public and Digital Humanities Initiatives, Rutgers University, Newark), Benjamin Schmidt (Assistant Professor of History, Northeastern University), and Jamil Zainaldin (President, Georgia Humanities Council).


Connecticut Humanities Council

Middletown, Connecticut

In addition to a trustee meeting devoted to the subject, the Connecticut Humanities Council promoted the Humanities Commission website by linking to it in all web-based and email communications. In August 2013, the Council’s executive director, Stuart Parnes, wrote an op-ed for the Hartford Courant, stating, “Until recently, we haven’t heard much about the wisdom and vision also needed to guide Connecticut’s families, communities and businesses forward. In June, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences presented a report to Congress called The Heart of the Matter which says continuing investment in the humanities and social sciences, in addition to STEM, is ‘essential for the inventiveness, competitiveness and security of the American public.’ The study of history, languages, arts, literature and ethics not only helps us navigate our complex lives, it provides real-world skills that we need to keep our society and our economy innovative, competitive and strong.”

District of Columbia

Council of Independent Colleges

Washington, D.C.

The Heart of the Matter’s publication coincided perfectly with activities for the Council of Independent Colleges’ (CIC) national public information campaign to promote the liberal arts and the effectiveness of independent higher education. The campaign, “Securing America’s Future: The Power of Liberal Arts Education,” has used the report in a variety of ways to bolster its messages. For example, data from the report is included in both print and digital versions of a campaign media kit that will be used by CIC-member presidents and public relations directors to make the case both for their institutions and for the value of a liberal arts education. The report and accompanying video are also featured on the campaign website. The CIC’s campaign publicizes research and data that dispel persistent and false stereotypes about independent colleges and liberal arts education, uses social media to disseminate information, and features prominent graduates of independent colleges and universities in all walks of life who connect their educational experiences in the liberal arts with their careers and personal lives.

Phi Beta Kappa

Washington, D.C.

Phi Beta Kappa launched its National Arts & Sciences Initiative in December 2013 in the conviction—echoed in The Heart of the Matter report—that higher education faces a crossroads. Aiming to strengthen support for the arts and sciences among policy-makers, the initiative is demonstrating that a broad-based arts and sciences education creates opportunity, drives ingenuity and innovation, and makes a strong investment in the nation. At a kickoff reception in Washington, D.C., Phi Beta Kappa honored Senator Lamar Alexander and Representative Rush Holt with the 1776 Award for their outstanding support of the arts and sciences in Congress. Since then, Phi Beta Kappa has convened awareness-raising events in Arizona and Massachusetts to demonstrate the real-world value of the arts and sciences in local communities and to present the Key of Excellence Award to exemplary programs whose innovative efforts have engaged a broad, diverse public with the arts, humanities, and sciences: Arizona State University’s Project Humanities and the Massachusetts Cultural Council were the first two recipients. In the months to come, Phi Beta Kappa will bestow the Key of Excellence to several more organizations throughout the nation. The next phase of the Initiative will equip Phi Beta Kappa members with effective grassroots advocacy tools, including compelling stories and facts about the benefits of the arts and sciences, to reach out to policy-makers and persons of influence.

Humanities Working Groups for Community Impact Initiative

Washington, D.C.

The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences called on humanities organizations to “embrace a new commitment to collaboration and a new sense of mutual obligation.” In response, the Humanities Working Groups for Community Impact Initiative took aim to foster this commitment to collaboration among humanities organizations on local and state levels in order to increase the visibility and impact of their work. Under this initiative, the National Humanities Alliance Foundation (NHAF)—in collaboration with the Federation of State Humanities Councils—is enlisting representatives of humanities organizations such as colleges, universities, humanities councils, museums, libraries, historical societies, and archives, to form humanities working groups in one community in each state. These working groups will identify the key issues facing their communities and states and explore ways that humanities institutions, by joining forces, can become key actors in addressing them. The initiative is supported by a grant from the Mrs. Giles Whiting Foundation.

At events in Washington, D.C., the Commission celebrated its work.


Florida Gulf Coast University

Lee County, Florida

At Florida Gulf Coast University (FGCU), The Heart of the Matter initiated strategic planning and discussion among faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences. Faculty held two meetings to plan ways for FGCU to respond to the report’s recommendations and created an electronic discussion board to continue the conversation. Faculty next prepared a proposal outlining a number of programming, educational, and curricular initiatives designed to enhance the reach of the humanities and social sciences at FGCU, both within the institution and out in the community, including K–12 outreach and humanities programming. The FGCU College of Arts and Sciences began implementing parts of the proposal in the 2014–2015 academic year.


University of West Georgia

Carrollton, Georgia

The Heart of the Matter was the subject of discussion at the second annual “The Shape of the Humanities in Higher Education” symposium at the University of West Georgia (UWG). The symposium was sponsored by the College of Arts and Humanities, with generous support from the Federation of State Humanities Councils, the Georgia Humanities Council, the Georgia Public Library Service, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Panelists included G. Wayne Clough (former Secretary, Smithsonian Institution; President Emeritus, Georgia Institute of Technology), Esther Mackintosh (President, Federation of State Humanities Councils), Rosanna Warren (award-winning poet; Hanna Holborn Gray Distinguished Service Professor, University of Chicago), and Robert Schaefer (Professor of Political Science, University of West Georgia). This has become a signature event in the life of UWG and its larger community. The insight of the panelists into the issues raised in the report has shaped thinking about actionable steps toward educating UWG students and has shaped plans for future symposia. Video from this event is available at


Idaho Humanities Council Distinguished Humanities Lectures
and Dinners

Boise, Idaho

Rick Ardinger (Executive Director, Idaho Humanities Council) wrote a newspaper editorial about The Heart of the Matter that appeared in the Idaho Statesman and was subsequently reprinted in several other Idaho newspapers. The Council has shown The Heart of the Matter video three times as part of its annual Idaho Humanities Council Distinguished Humanities Lectures and Dinners in Boise (with historian Nathaniel Philbrick), Coeur d’Alene (with historian Douglas Brinkley), and Idaho Falls (with journalist and historian Isabel Wilkerson). A combined total of about eleven hundred dinner guests viewed the film at those events before the speakers made their presentations. The Council has also included a link to the video on its website.


Chicago Humanities Festival

Chicago, Illinois

The publication of The Heart of the Matter has galvanized the Chicago Humanities Festival (CHF). It buoyed the organization as it approached its twenty-fifth anniversary and inspired members to convene the inaugural Chicago Humanities Summit in January of 2014. Working in collaboration with the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the Modern Language Association, the CHF assembled two hundred national leaders (from provosts and deans to institute directors and faculty members) to engage in conversations about the present and future of the humanities. In sessions ranging from topics on the humanities’ role in public education to relationship-building with other foundations, the CHF took the vision outlined in The Heart of the Matter and brainstormed ways to implement it throughout academia in the United States and beyond. Commission Cochairs Richard Brodhead (President, Duke University) and John Rowe (retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Exelon Corporation) and Commission member Diane Wood (Chief Judge, United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit) were among the featured speakers. Video from this event is available at

Left to right: WBEZ reporter Alison Cuddy; Commission members John Rowe, Richard Brodhead, Diane Wood, and Don Randel; MLA President Marianne Hirsch; and Commission member Karl Eikenberry.

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, Illinois

During the past year, the University of Illinois held the campus-wide discussion “Campus Conversation on Undergraduate Education,” which strongly engaged the spirit of The Heart of the Matter. Both the Director of the Illinois Program on Research in the Humanities (IPRH) and the Director of the Unit for Criticism and Interpretive Theory disseminated the report through the University’s electronic mailing lists. In the fall of 2013, Gordon Hutner (Professor of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) and Feisal Mohamed (Professor of English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign) organized the conference “A New Deal for the Humanities,” during which The Heart of the Matter was referenced repeatedly. In spring 2014, a keynote lecturer for the University of Illinois “Critical Inequalities” conference, Didier Fassin (James D. Wolfensohn Professor at the Institute for Advance Study), gave a lecture entitled “What is (a) Life Worth? Biolegitimacy and Inequality.” Both events drew upon the spirit of The Heart of the Matter in their concern for the value of the humanities and social sciences, as well as the relation between them.


University of Notre Dame

South Bend, Indiana

Commission Cochair Richard Brodhead spoke at the Notre Dame Forum on the topic of “The Once and Future Liberal Arts.” The Forum was convened and hosted by Commission member Fr. John Jenkins (President, University of Notre Dame). In conjunction with Notre Dame’s ongoing undergraduate curriculum review, the 2014–2015 Forum considered the question, “What Do Notre Dame Graduates Need to Know?”


Kansas Humanities Council
The Heart of the Matter: Humanities and Civic Life

Abilene, Kansas

William D. “Bro” Adams (Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities) was the featured speaker at The Heart of the Matter event at the Eisenhower Presidential Library, Museum and Boyhood Home in Abilene, Kansas. Guests at the event included poets, authors, cowboys, museum directors, faculty members, librarians, college students, and civic volunteers. Speaking to a full room of one hundred guests, Chairman Adams suggested that it was time for Americans to attend to “the relevance of the humanities to the current conditions of national life,” as stated in the founding legislation of the National Endowment for the Humanities. His remarks segued into a screening of The Heart of the Matter short film and the distribution of the executive summary of The Heart of the Matter report. Facilitated by the Institute for Civic Discourse and Democracy (ICDD) at Kansas State University, audience members discussed and responded to the three core goals of the report: 1) to educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy; 2) to foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong; and 3) to equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world. Chairman Adams responded to key points in the report, including the importance of access to information, cultural literacy, and building momentum for the humanities.


University of Maine Humanities Center
Maine Humanities Summit

Augusta, Maine

For its second annual Humanities Summit, the University of Maine Humanities Center (UHMC) focused on “The Humanities and Public Policy,” drawing extensively on policy goals and recommendations from The Heart of the Matter. The UHMC invited John Tessitore (Program Director for the Humanities and Education, American Academy of Arts and Sciences) to present on the topic alongside Stephen Kidd (Executive Director, National Humanities Alliance) and Felicia Knight (President, Knight Canney Group). The summit, held in the state capital of Augusta, was attended by members of the Maine humanities community as well as state legislators and the President of the University of Maine System.

University of Maine

Orono, Maine

The announcement of the Commission report coincided with the official launch of a fund-raising drive to support a new University of Maine Humanities Center (UHMC). Funds have been successfully secured through an active schedule of social gatherings (hosted by alumni and friends of the University) throughout the state, during which organizers have shown The Heart of the Matter short film and distributed Commission materials. Faculty—and occasionally Academy and Commission representatives—have attended these meetings and presented their research as a starting point for a discussion highlighting the value and lifelong impact of a liberal arts education. In the first full year of operation, the UHNC has raised $500,000 in gifts and pledges for its endowment. Ultimately, the UHMC will support teaching innovation, scholarly activities, and community engagement in the humanities.


University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

The Heart of the Matter contributed to an ongoing conversation about the value of an arts and humanities education at the University of Maryland (UMD) and provided a new context for discussions about humanities scholarship, teaching, and service. In December 2013, on the heels of the report’s publication, UMD launched the Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy to further promote the need for intentional collaborations between the humanities and sciences and between academia and the public. Through the Center, Maryland has provided the larger UMD community with a series of public lectures that included Commission members John Lithgow (actor) and Annette Gordon-Reed (Charles Warren Professor of American Legal History, Carol K. Pforzheimer Professor at the Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study, and Professor of History, Harvard University) and a series of research videos that bring the voices of humanities scholars to a larger audience. The Arts and Humanities Center for Synergy is now demonstrating the power of the humanities in addressing the pressing issues of our time through transdisciplinary research and socially active partnerships. Video from this event is available at

Center for Advanced Study of Language
University of Maryland

College Park, Maryland

The Center for Advanced Study of Language at the University of Maryland convened a major international conference on language in English-dominant societies. “Languages for All? The Anglophone Challenge”1 addressed the question of why more residents of predominantly English-speaking countries like the United Kingdom and United States are not learning second languages. Rather than reiterate the importance of language study, leaders and managers from government, business, and education were invited to lead a frank discussion of recent developments in language learning and teaching, including what has and has not worked, whether these developments were affecting their decisions to support learning a second language, and whether they expected any change in the future. Representatives of the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences addressed these issues from the shared perspective of English-dominant societies. In this regard, the Heart of the Matter report became an important focus of discussion. These conversations led to the first joint American and British Academy collaboration, a conference held in June 2014 in London focusing on the topics of “soft power” and language.


American Academy of Arts and Sciences

Cambridge, Massachusetts

In the months following the publication of The Heart of the Matter, the American Academy released the Humanities Report Card 2013, an infographic representation of the state of the humanities (available at On the one-year anniversary of the release of the report, the American Academy introduced three new research tools for humanities scholars and policy-makers: a redesigned Humanities Indicators website (, featuring rigorous and easily searchable data; a newly developed online Data Forum to gather perspective and critiques for new data generated by the Indicators (; and The State of the Humanities: Funding 2014, a publication that displays the array of funding sources, large and small, that underwrite the humanities, and reveals the ongoing recovery of federal, state, and private support in the wake of the recession. In early April of 2015, the Academy released the second publication in the series, The State of the Humanities: Higher Education 2015, which provides a more balanced and evidence-based depiction of the health of the humanities on college and university campuses than is commonly reported.


University of Michigan

Ann Arbor, Michigan

In May 2014, a conference entitled “The Liberal Arts and Sciences in the Research University Today: Histories, Challenges, and Futures” was held on campus as part of the Michigan Meetings series. The conference engaged a distinguished set of speakers from universities, philanthropic organizations, and the Association of American Colleges and Universities, several of whom directly referenced The Heart of the Matter. Mary Sue Coleman (President, University of Michigan) and Commission member John Hennessy (President, Stanford University) coauthored an op-ed piece for The Washington Post last year in which they made the case for the immense value of a liberal arts education and the importance of those disciplines that deal most directly with the human condition.


Nebraska Humanities Council’s Governor’s Lecture Joslyn Art Museum

Omaha, Nebraska

Commission member and Pulitzer Prize–winning author and historian Annette Gordon-Reed spoke before an audience of eight hundred about The Heart of the Matter at the eighteenth annual Governor’s Lecture held at the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha.

University of Nebraska–Lincoln Center for Digital Research in the Humanities

Lincoln, Nebraska

The Heart of the Matter drew immediate interest at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln (UNL) and in the UNL Center for Digital Research in the Humanities. In 2013–2014, the University’s most prestigious lecture—the Nebraska Lecture—was delivered on the subject of the value of the humanities. The publication has also influenced the curriculum for the UNL graduate certificate in digital humanities. In 2014, two student teams created smartphone apps for the Humanities Nebraska Chautauqua (Nebraska’s state humanities council) and a digital literary map of the state for the Nebraska Center for the Book. These projects extended The Heart of the Matter’s influence from campus to public humanities in the state.

New Hampshire

International Humanities Summit
Dartmouth College

Hanover, New Hampshire

Thus far, responses to the Mapping the Future report published by Harvard University and The Heart of the Matter report published by the American Academy have been focused primarily on the humanities in the United States. Accordingly, the Dartmouth summit extended the conversation about the reports and their findings worldwide, inviting humanities scholars with global reputations and affiliations to join in formulating a response to the reports. Panel topics included “The Humanities Now,” “Re-Framing the Discussion: A Roundtable,” and “Prospects.” Panelists consisted of faculty from Dartmouth College; the University of California, Berkeley; Carleton College; University of Sydney; Duke University; the New School; and University of the Witwatersrand in Johannesburg. Students were also involved in preparing for the summit and took part in its discussion sessions.

New York

New York University

New York, New York

The Heart of the Matter was used as the basis of a discussion with the New York University Board of Trustees at its January 2014 meeting. The discussion concentrated on the misleading criteria and false metrics currently used to measure the success of students educated in the humanities in general and in art history in particular. As part of a four-year investigation into the future directions of the fields of art history, archaeology, and conservation funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, the Academic Review Committee was convened to examine the special characteristics of advanced training in art history and the specific challenges and opportunities that training presents. Representatives from this committee have contacted the Deans of Arts and Sciences at leading universities with graduate programs in art history to better assess the position of the humanities (art history in particular) at their universities. Conversations about the state of enrollment, majors, resources, and future plans revealed that art history is a very healthy and stable field that is in a natural process of evaluating its relevance to current concerns.

New York State Museum

Albany, New York

In an address before 325 people at the Clark Auditorium, Commission member David Souter declared that by supporting humanistic activities—as readers, as scholars, as policy-makers—“We are arguing for the survival of the United States as we know it.” Associate Justice Souter was the featured speaker at an event organized jointly by the New York Council for the Humanities, the New York State Library, the New York State Museum, and the New York State Archives.

Cornell University

Ithaca, New York

The release of The Heart of the Matter coincided with the arrival of the new Dean for the College of Arts and Sciences and the appointment of a curriculum committee charged with reviewing and reassessing the liberal arts curriculum. The report has been an important part of ongoing conversations with faculty about the creation of new types of humanities courses. With an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant, Cornell has been able to bring more traditional humanities scholars from literature and history into seminars with architecture students who are learning about urban environment design. Graduate students are learning how to incorporate online materials, including digital archives, into their own research and, importantly, into their future teaching as humanists. In partnership with the Atkinson Center for Sustainability, faculty are also bringing environmental sciences students into closer interaction with humanities fields such as history, literature, classics, history of art, and anthropology.

North Carolina

Duke University

Durham, North Carolina

The Heart of the Matter served to deepen the ongoing conversations at Duke University about the role of humanities research, practice, and performance in disciplinary and transdisciplinary arenas, especially through Humanities Writ Large, a five-year initiative supported by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation. Humanities Writ Large aims to strengthen the role of the humanities in undergraduate education by expanding research opportunities; supporting a Visiting Faculty Fellows Program; building Emerging Networks to shift humanities research toward broadly collaborative, interdisciplinary engagements; and creating the Humanities Labs, which are multi-year themed programs intended to foster interdisciplinary research that “vertically integrates” faculty, undergraduates, and graduate students in shared research projects. The Heart of the Matter also played a role in discussion of other undergraduate initiatives, including the move to integrate humanistic questions into the interdisciplinary themes of the Bass Connections program, the hiring of an academic advisor specializing in the humanities, and the promotion of humanities opportunities to prospective students.

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Chapel Hill, North Carolina

The 2013 Adams Lecture, an annual event sponsored by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC-Chapel Hill) College of Arts and Sciences’ Program for the Humanities, directly referenced The Heart of the Matter. Professor H. Holden Thorp (Provost, Washington University in St. Louis; former Chancellor and Dean of Arts and Sciences, UNC-Chapel Hill), discussed the value and implications of the report in his lecture “From Salesman to Hamletmachine: The Need for the Humanities.” Senior Associate Dean for Fine Arts and Humanities Terry Rhodes represented UNC-Chapel Hill in a symposium at North Carolina State University to discuss The Heart of the Matter. In addition, North Carolina public radio station WUNC-FM’s signature news show “The State of Things” aired an interview with Commission member Karl Eikenberry (former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan; retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General; Fellow in International Security, Stanford University) discussing, among other topics, The Heart of the Matter report, in which he told host Frank Stasio he believes the humanities can provide an innovative approach to modern diplomacy. The audience for this episode was estimated at fifteen thousand public radio listeners.

The Heart of the Matter: A Call to Action in North Carolina

Raleigh, North Carolina

Randy Woodson (Chancellor, North Carolina State University) and Jeff Braden (Dean of the Colleges of Humanities and Social Sciences, North Carolina State University) hosted a conversation between Commission member Karl Eikenberry, Congressman David Price (D-North Carolina), Commission Cochair Richard Brodhead (President, Duke University), and Tom Ross (President, University of North Carolina) to discuss The Heart of the Matter. Nearly two hundred North Carolina leaders from business and industry and from the government, education (K–12 and postsecondary), and nonprofit sectors joined in the conversation and asked the panelists questions. A coordinating committee chaired by North Carolina State professors Andy Taylor and Walt Wolfram will continue the conversation with the goal of producing a set of recommendations on how to enhance awareness of the report and enact its recommendations in North Carolina. Video from this event is available at

Commission member Karl Eikenberry, UNC President Tom Ross, NC State University College of Humanities and Social Sciences Dean Jeff Braden, Commission Cochair Richard Brodhead, and U.S. Representative David Price.

Humanities for Our Future:
Envisioning the Heart of Humanities Education
Wake Forest University

Winston-Salem, North Carolina

Wake Forest University, inspired by The Heart of the Matter, held “Humanities for Our Future: Envisioning the Heart of Humanities Education,” a panel discussion and open dialogue addressing the future of humanities education. Panelists included Beverly Emory (Superintendent, Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Public Schools); Michele Gillespie (Presidential Endowed Professor of Southern History, Wake Forest University); Corey Walker (Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, Winston-Salem State University; John W. and Anna Hodgin Hanes Professor of the Humanities, Wake Forest University); and Paula Watkins (Executive Director, North Carolina Humanities Council). Rogan Kersh (Provost and Professor of Politics and International Affairs, Wake Forest University) moderated the discussion. Provost Kersh solicited the panelists’ views on the tension surrounding curricula changes and funding cuts in humanities programs and departments, effective ways to promote and talk about the value of the humanities, and their vision for the future of humanities education. Approximately one hundred fifty people were in attendance, and about eighty attended a working dinner. The topics represented and discussed included: Exploring Community and Humanities Education Partnerships; The Future of the Humanities in K–12 Curricula; The Future of the Humanities in Higher Education; Exploring University Library and K–12 Collaborations in the Humanities; Exploring Collaborations in the Humanities Across Universities; The Role of Public Humanities; Humanities Education in a Digital and Multi-Media Age; Advocating for the Humanities; and The Humanities in Global Context.


Oklahoma Humanities Council

Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

Commission member Diane Wood gave a public presentation on The Heart of the Matter in Oklahoma City. The event was cosponsored by the Oklahoma Humanities Council, Oklahoma City University, and the Oklahoma Department of Libraries. Facilitated by University of Oklahoma City President Robert Henry, Judge Wood gave insight into the formation and work of the report and her impressions of the importance of the humanities and social sciences to America. Held at the Oklahoma Judicial Center, the event was preceded by a free public reception.


Pennsylvania Humanities Council

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Following the release of The Heart of the Matter, Laurie Zierer (Executive Director, Pennsylvania Humanities Council) penned an op-ed entitled “Humanities are the Heart of the Matter,” which was published under various headlines in several Pennsylvania newspapers, including The Delaware County Times, the Lebanon Daily News, Penn Live (the online addition of the Patriot News, Central Pennsylvania’s award-winning daily local news source),, and the Pennsylvania Library Association Bulletin. In addition, The Heart of the Matter was a key starting point for conversation during the Pennsylvania Humanities Council’s Humanities Town Hall Meeting with Congressman Charlie Dent (R-Pennsylvania). Copies of the report and executive summary were distributed to over fifty organizations and institutions ranging from libraries, universities, historical societies, and museums to arts centers, state arts agencies, and advocacy groups from the fifteen Congressional Districts.

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

The University of Pennsylvania’s Society for Classical Studies published an entry on the American Philological Association (APA) blog entitled, “AAAS Report on Value of Humanities and Social Sciences.” The entry credited the release of The Heart of the Matter report with launching “a national conversation about the importance of the humanities and social sciences to America’s future.” It provided links to the report, report brief, and companion film. The Penn Humanities Forum organized a roundtable discussion to discuss the report and the impact of government policies on the present and future of humanities. Participants included representatives from the School of Arts and Sciences Dean’s Office, Office of Government and Community Affairs, and Association of American Universities. Invitees included the Forum’s faculty and Penn’s postdoctoral and graduate fellows.

Carnegie Mellon University

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

The Heart of the Matter inspired significant and sustained discussion among students and faculty on the Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) campus throughout the 2013–2014 academic year—an unexpected success at a university known for its strengths in technology education and research. In August 2013, orientation activities for CMU’s incoming class focused on The Heart of the Matter report. Commission member Karl W. Eikenberry participated in a workshop on September 27th to discuss the report and exchange views on ways in which institutions of higher learning can further promote the studies of the humanities and social sciences. The one-hour roundtable was attended by a number of CMU department heads as well as undergraduate students. Subra Suresh (President, Carnegie Mellon University) presided over a series of symposia on critical education and research challenges affecting Carnegie Mellon and other U.S. research universities in celebration of his inaugural year as president. For the final symposium of the series, President Suresh invited Commission members Norman Augustine (retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Lockheed Martin Corporation) and Hunter Rawlings (President, Association of American Universities) to come to Pittsburgh to discuss the report and its key recommendations. They were joined on the panel by four CMU humanities and social sciences faculty who commented on the intellectual opportunities that humanistic and social scientific thinking present to all students and described the distinctive cross-disciplinary approaches that have distinguished CMU’s humanities and social sciences disciplines in recent decades. About two hundred fifty students, faculty, and alumni attended this discussion. Video from this event is available at Additionally, as part of the John and Mary Lou Lehoczky Lecture Series in the Humanities and Social Sciences, David Souter (former Associate Justice, Supreme Court of the United States) delivered his lecture “The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, and Secure Nation,” to a standing room–only crowd in the McConomy Auditorium at Carnegie Mellon University.

Commission member Hunter Rawlings and cmu president Subra Suresh with CMU undergraduate Hayley Rahl.

South Carolina

University of South Carolina

Columbia, South Carolina

The Heart of the Matter has served as an important springboard for broad discussion of the purpose and value of the humanities and social sciences at the University of South Carolina’s College of Arts and Sciences. During the academic year 2013–2014, the College’s faculty, administrators, and alumni, along with community leaders, have engaged in an extended, thoughtful, and critical examination of the report’s assumptions and findings. With The Heart of the Matter as a model, Arts and Sciences faculty continue to discuss the “grand challenges” that we face, including energy, the environment, health, education, and security. Discussions around the report have reaffirmed the College’s belief that there is real strength when scholars across disciplines address challenges facing the humanities through a national conversation about the value of liberal education.


Utah Humanities Council

Salt Lake City, Utah

The Utah Humanities Council featured The Heart of the Matter in its twenty-fifth annual Human Ties awards program, reaching an audience of over one hundred. Additionally, the Council’s website has included a link to The Heart of the Matter short film, preceded by a statement of the Council’s new commitment to focus on community-driven public discussion of the humanities. Links to the report were also shared on the Council’s Facebook page.


Council of Colleges of Arts & Sciences

Williamsburg, Virginia

The Heart of the Matter resonated deeply with the Arts and Sciences deans in the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences (CCAS) and inspired a lively discussion of the report among the Board of Directors. With the intention to reinvigorate the role of humanities and social sciences akin to the way STEM subjects have been treated following the National Academies’ 2007 report Rising Above the Gathering Storm, the CCAS sponsored a forum at its 2013 Annual Meeting entitled “The Heart of the Matter: The Report from the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and What We Should Do about It.” Exploration of the report’s recommendations has helped deans better articulate the case for the importance of the liberal arts in today’s society. Over one hundred deans attended this breakout session, which led the Council to schedule a follow-up session for its 2014 annual meeting.

On November 7, 2014, the CCAS recognized the American Academy of Arts and Sciences with its 2014 Arts and Sciences Advocacy Award at its Forty-Ninth Annual Meeting in San Antonio, Texas. The CCAS Arts and Sciences Advocacy Award honors an individual or an organization that demonstrates exemplary advocacy for the arts and sciences, flowing from a deep commitment to the intrinsic worth of liberal arts education. In presenting the award, Nancy A. Gutierrez (President, Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences; Dean of Liberal Arts and Sciences, University of North Carolina at Charlotte), announced that the CCAS was honoring the American Academy for publishing The Heart of the Matter and for its long-standing commitment to recognizing outstanding scholars and sponsoring meetings, lectures, and informal gatherings to address critical challenges facing our global society. Gutierrez added that, with the issuance of this report and other initiatives such as the Humanities Indicators project, “the American Academy has launched national conversations, international projects, and agendas for universities throughout the country.”

Federation of State Humanities Councils

Arlington, Virginia

The Heart of the Matter launched a conversation of tremendous value to those employed in the public and academic humanities. The Federation of State Humanities Councils has used the Academy’s report to carry this conversation onto the pages of local newspapers and online publications, into large statewide events featuring prominent speakers, and into community discussions at the local library. The richness of the findings, recommendations, and reflections in the report ensures that conversation will continue for some time about the need for community members to work together to broaden public understanding of the role of humanities in everyday American life.


University of Wisconsin–Madison

Madison, Wisconsin

The Heart of the Matter has helped the University of Wisconsin communicate the importance of the humanities to its stakeholders and has sparked ongoing conversations with advocates of the liberal arts and (especially) the humanities to develop new initiatives and appeal to donors. The Dean of Letters and Science has used the report in meetings and talks with parents, alumni, donors, and the wider public about the liberal arts. The report also fueled successful efforts to formulate and gain approval for an M.A./Ph.D. certificate in the Public Humanities, placing the University of Wisconsin at the leading edge of national (and international) efforts to broaden the scope and enhance the success of post-graduate opportunities for graduate students in the humanities. The university also hosted the panel discussion “What’s the Value of Humanities Research?” using The Heart of the Matter as a talking point and resource.


Wyoming Humanities Council

Laramie, Wyoming

One of the Wyoming Humanities Council’s most opened email messages featured The Heart of the Matter video, which resonated deeply with the Council’s constituency. The Council has used information from the short film in many discussions about and descriptions of the humanities. In June 2014, the Council brought together pairs of artists and scientists at a ranch-based retreat center for two weeks to work on exploring problems and ideas together. In order to gain a better understanding of this vital relationship and interplay between disciplines, the Council video-documented the process.


1 Event cosponsors included some of the leading language organizations in the United States—the American Council on the Teaching of Foreign Languages (ACTFL), American Councils for International Education, the Defense Language Institute Foundation, Globalization and Localization Association (GALA), Joint National Committee on Languages–National Council for Language and International Studies (JNCL–NCLIS)—as well as the British Academy and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Speakers included University of Maryland President Wallace Loh and representatives from the American, British, and Australian Academies; Fortune 500 companies; the Department of Education; the Department of Defense; and school boards; along with researchers, school administrators, foreign language practitioners, policy-makers, and a former governor.