2010 Humanities Advocacy Day

On March 8-9, the National Humanities Alliance held its 30th Annual Meeting and 11th Humanities Advocacy Day. More than 200 individuals took part in activities during the two-day period in Washington, DC. Activities included panel presentations, luncheon and keynote address, policy briefing, Capitol Hill reception, and Congressional visits. The National Coalition for History is a co-sponsor of Humanities Advocacy Day.

(Story used courtesy of the National Humanities Alliance).

Panel Presentations
The National Humanities Alliance’s newly-elected President, Michael Brintnall (Executive Director, American Political Science Association), convened the public session of the Annual Meeting at 10:00am, and introduced two panel presentations during the morning program on “The State of the Humanities” and “Humanities in Public Policy.” Topics included trends in funding and the academic workforce as well as examples of the role that the humanities can play in shaping and contributing to critical public policy issues.

Rosemary Feal (Modern Language Association) moderated a panel with James Allen Smith (The Rockefeller Archive Center) and Jessica Irons (National Humanities Alliance) on recent trends in federal funding, philanthropic giving, and higher education. David Marshall (University of California, Santa Barbara) moderated a panel on the humanities in public policy with Wade Clark Roof (Walter H. Capps Center for the Study of Ethics, Religion, and Public Life, University of California, Santa Barbara) and Kathleen Woodward (Walter Chapin Simpson Center for the Humanities, University of Washington).

In the afternoon, Martha Kanter (Under Secretary, Department of Education) spoke about the challenges faced by the U.S. educational system in a global context, and the need to foster a well-balanced approach to education that is both multi- and inter-disciplinary, and that addresses the arts, humanities and sciences in combination together.

Brett Bobley (Chief Information Officer & Director, Office of Digital Humanities, National Endowment for the Humanities) provided an overview of recent competitions and grants supported by the NEH Office of Digital Humanities. He also highlighted NEH actions, including the release of extensive grants data under President Obama’s new Open Government Initiative. Further input on the agency’s Open Government Plan (currently under formulation) was invited.

The sessions at GWU were attended by staff and officers from NHA member organizations and institutions, college and university faculty, students, state humanities council representatives, higher education leaders, and federal agency staff.

Keynote Luncheon
Jim Leach, Chairman of

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the National Endowment for the Humanities delivered the National Humanities Alliance’s fourth annual keynote luncheon. The Chairman spoke about the role of the humanities and NEH’s new thematic emphasis on ‘Bridging Cultures,’ in light of the many challenges facing American society today. The 2010 luncheon was generously sponsored by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Council of Learned Societies, and The Phi Beta Kappa Society.

Capitol Hill Reception
At the conclusion of the afternoon sessions at GWU, participants traveled to the Rayburn House Office Building’s Gold Room for the evening’s reception sponsored by History. Participants in the NHA’s Annual Meeting and Humanities Advocacy Day joined Congressional and federal agency staff in listening to remarks from Jim Leach, Chairman, National Endowment for the Humanities, and Libby O’Connell, Senior Vice President, Corporate Outreach, and Chief Historian for History. The Humanities Alliance’s Immediate Past President, John Churchill, received an award for his outstanding contributions to the humanities community.

Humanities Advocacy Day Congressional Visits
On Tuesday, March 9, 98 humanities advocates visited 127 House and Senate offices representing 32 states. Grassroots advocates distributed issue briefs and discussed humanities projects in their states and districts. Among other priorities, constituents asked Members of Congress to support increased funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities and oppose the Administration’s proposed $7.2 million cut to the agency’s program funds. History advocates also pressed for adequate funding for the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC). Issue briefs prepared for Humanities Advocacy Day are available on the NHA’s website.