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Oklahoma Humanities Council Commends National Report on the Humanities

Oklahoma Humanities Council Commends National Report on the Humanities

Oklahoma City, OK - The Oklahoma Humanities Council joins the call for a renewed commitment to the humanities outlined in the national report The Heart of the Matter: The Humanities and Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, and Secure Nation. The report was requested by a bipartisan group of legislators – Sen. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Sen. Mark Warner (D-VA), Rep. Tom Petri (R-WI), and Rep. David Price (D-NC) – and prepared by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences (AAAS) Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences.

The report argues that reinvigorating the humanities is essential to achieving three vital national goals:

  • Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy.
  • Foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.
  • Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world. 

The humanities promote these goals by cultivating critical reasoning, empathy, creativity, curiosity, flexibility, and knowledge of history, civics, languages, and other cultures, among others.

To renew this commitment to the humanities, the report urges increased federal funding for the humanities, including more support for state humanities councils and the National Endowment for the Humanities. The report also calls for heightened funding from businesses, foundations, donors, state governments, and public-private partnerships.

Dr. William Bryans, Chair of the OHC Board of Trustees, says that knowledge of the humanities is absolutely essential as we continue our venture into the twenty-first century. "Science and technology promise us wonderful and exciting advances that will be transformative in their impact," said Bryans. "Yet, if we are to fully realize the benefit of these advances, we need to be able to think critically, communicate effectively with one another, appreciate cultural differences, have empathy for others, promote civil discourse, and face this future with an understanding of our past. These are human qualities, not things we can physically touch. They certainly are not superfluous. They are as significant as any scientific or technological advancement. The humanities, by promoting these very necessary attributes, do nothing less than empower us to examine what it means to be human. In the process, they provide a very real foundation for a better future. "

The state humanities councils are intimately connected to this report in three ways. First, the councils played a key role in the report’s development. AAAS held four regional forums to gather information for the report. The first forum focused on collecting council recommendations, and councils also participated in the other forums.

State humanities councils play a key role in the report’s discussion of cultural institutions. The report applauds the councils and other public humanities organizations for promoting lifelong learning, individual well-being, and strong communities. Esther Mackintosh, President of the Federation of State Humanities Councils, describes in the report how councils foster a vibrant democracy:

"By educating low-income people in the full range of humanities disciplines, by bringing new immigrants into the fabric of their American communities, by forging partnerships with state and local governments to strengthen the cultural and educational infrastructure of their states, the humanities councils are making real the idea that a wise and visionary citizenry is the underpinning of a healthy civic life and a thriving democracy."

Third, the state councils will play a key role in the report’s impact. The Federation of State Humanities Councils is working with AAAS and the Institute of Museum and Library Services to hold events across the country. State councils will partner with State Library Agencies or other organizations to host conversations about the report’s recommendations and their application to states and local communities.

The Oklahoma Humanities Council welcomes these conversations as an important next step, and urges all Oklahoma citizens to do their part to make these recommendations a reality.

To view the full report or a seven-minute video, go to http://www.humanitiescommission.org.