On June 19 the Amiercan Academy of Arts and Sciences (AAAS) released the report of its Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, a group formed over two years ago in response to a request from members of Congress for a report that would respond to the following 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?
Louis Cabot, Chair of the Academy Board, described the report in the following message to Academy Fellows:
I am pleased to announce that the Academy's Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences released its report The Heart of the Matter on Capitol Hill this morning.
Presented by Commission cochairs, Richard H. Brodhead, President of Duke University, and John Rowe, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exelon Corporation, The Heart of the Matter looks at the vital role of the humanities and social sciences in preparing Americans to be productive citizens of the United States and the world.
The report focuses on five areas of concern--K-12 Education; Two- and Four-Year Colleges; Research; Cultural Institutions and Lifelong Learning; and International Security and Competitiveness--and makes recommendations to achieve three goals:
- Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding needed to thrive in a 21st century democracy;
- Foster an innovative, competitive, and strong society;
- Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world.
Today's release of The Heart of the Matter launches a national conversation about the importance of the humanities and social sciences to America's future.
A short companion film, The Heart of the Matter, produced by Emmy Award-winning filmmakers Ewers Brothers Productions also was released today. Appearing in the film are producer, screenwriter, and director George Lucas, actor John Lithgow, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, among others.
The report, report brief, and film are available at www.humanitiescommission.org.
Several media outlets have reported on the release of The Heart of the Matter; links to stories in The New York Times; USA Today; and Time appear below:
- Humanities Committee Sounds an Alarm (The New York Times)
- Humanities, social sciences critical to our future: Column by Norman Augustine and David Skorton (USA Today)
- Critics of the Liberal Arts Are Wrong by Annette Gordon-Reed (TIME)
I am grateful to the Members of the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences for undertaking this critical study and for preparing such a timely report. I invite all Fellows to take part in the important conversation that this report will surely stimulate.