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tv   National Endowment for the Humanities  CSPAN  January 18, 2015 12:20am-1:23am EST

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>> ricardo. from ap. >> thank you for taking my question. in your speech you didn't mention s.g.r. and chip. and could we get what your outlook is for those two programs and what has to happen on the hill this year? and does the fact that you didn't mention these two programs mean that you think it's going to be contentious? >> so glad you raised them. probably the reason i didn't mention is because if this speech lasted much longer i'm not sure how long all of you would be here. the issue -- those are both important issues. they do fit into the frame of the conversation and what the speech was about, which is general bipartisan support, both for s.g.r. as well as the issue of chip. and so i think those fall into
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the category of things where i think there will be bipartisan support. i think those are very clearly legislative issues that the congress will take the lead in terms of the timetable and focus they will do. not mentioned because i thought that they were very contentious. as her matter of fact -- as a matter of fact, on the ledger of putting things in columns of more contentious or greater possibility for working together, i see both of those in that category of greater possibility for working together. i think the question will come back to a point that was just raised in terms of deficits and that sort of thing. as one looks at cost. the administration has expressed support for both of them. so the question is a legislative approach to achieve them. >> we want to thank you for coming and thank secretary burwell for joining us at new america. we hope you'll come to future events here.
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not always as high profile as this one, we are really glad we could host you today. thank you very much. >> thank you very much. [applause] >> next, remarks from william adams, the incoming chair of the national endowment for the humanities. after that, governor mike pence gives his state of the state address. and then president obama and representative russell with weekly addresses. >> on newsmakers, republican senator john hoeven.
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he is the sponsor of a bill that would authorize construction of the keystone pipeline. he talks about the legislation which president obama has threatened to veto. even watch the interview sunday at 10:00 a.m. and 6 p.m. eastern. >> tuesday night, president obama delivers his state of the union address. live coverage begin at 8:00 p.m. eastern including the speech. the gop response delivered by joni ernst. and your reaction through open phones live on c-span and c-span radio. on c-span2, watch the speech and congressional reaction. state of the union come alive on c-span c-span2, c-span radio and >> now, william adams, the 10th chair of the national endowment
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for the humanities. the initiative is part of their 50th anniversary celebration. the institution was founded in 1965 with a mission to support research, education, preservation and programs the humanities. this event is about an hour. >> good afternoon. welcome. before we begin, i would like to ask you all to stand and observe a minutes of silence in memory of the attack in france. the publication whose editor and
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four leading cartoonists were among those killed last wednesday. we honor their memories and their contributions to our profession and to the freedom of the press. as a mark of special respect to those who died, we at the national press club are observing the silence in memory at the start of every event at the club this week, including with our annual number should meeting tomorrow. >> thank you very much. please be seated. welcome again. i am an adjunct professor at the
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george washington university school of media and public affairs, former international bureau chief with the associated press, and 107th president of the national press club. the national press club is the world's leading professional organization for journalists committed to our profession's future through our programing with events such as this while fostering a free press. for more information about the national press club, please visit our web site at on behalf of our members worldwide, i would like to welcome our speaker and those of you attending today's event. our head table includes guests of our speakers and working journalists who are club members. i note that members of the general public are attending, so it's not necessarily evidence of a lack of journalistic objectivity. i would like to welcome c-span
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and public radio audiences and you can follow the action on twitter using #npclunch. after the speech concludes, we will have a question and answer. i will allow questions as time permits. it's time to introduce our head table guests. from the audience's right, a hubert humphrey fellow and fulbright scholars program. freelance journalist. washington correspondent for "the arkansas democrat gazette.” carol schneider, president of the association of american colleges and universities and guest of our speaker.
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nick, deputy c.e.o. of the united states capitol visitors center and co-organizer of this luncheon. director of the smithsonian american art museum and guest of our speaker. washington bureau chief for the "buffalo news" chair of the speaker's committee and former national press club president. skipping over our guest of honor for the moment, amy henderson, historian america of the national portrait gallery and co-organizer of this luncheon. thank you, amy. thank you again, nick. philip lewis, vice president of the andrew mellon foundation.
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director for present information at the austrian embassy. george thompson, president of thompson and associates. [applause] this year marks the 50th birthday of the national endowment for the humanities, an independent federal agency that is funded by taxpayers. our speaker today has chaired the organization since mid-2014 and we hope to hear the plans for marking that anniversary. like its sister organization the national endowment of the arts, it has had shared its share of politically charged controversy over the years. those cultural debates have been eclipsed in recent years in the $146 million budget grants go to
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state humanities councils, museums, research and educational institutions. a native of michigan, adams has degrees from colorado college and university of california at santa cruz. his formal education was interrupted by three years of service in the army, including one year in vietnam. it was partly that experience, he says, that motivated him to study and teach in the humanities. he has said, quote, if they be serious in a certain way, and as a 20-year-old combat infantry adviser, i came face to face acutely with questions that writers, artists, philosophers and musicians examine in their work, starting with what does it mean to be human, unquote. later he coordinated the great works in western culture program
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at stanford university and served as vice president and secretary of wesleyan university and president of bucknell university in 1995 and president of colby college in 2000. last spring, president obama nominated adams to serve as the 10th chairman of the national endowment for the humanities. ladies and gentlemen, please give a warm national press club welcome to bro adams. [applause] >> thank you for those nice words. welcome. thank you so much for coming. it's great to be here at the national press club and i want to thank its organizers for giving me a chance to talk about n.e.h. and the work we are doing. i am also very grateful for the
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inspiration of the cupcakes. [laughter] we have been talking a lot about the 50th at n.e.h. and haven't talked about cupcakes, but i know now that's what we are going to do. and that's all i'm going to say on planning the 50th. but there will be cupcakes. [laughter] some additional expressions of thanks to those who are here today. i want to thank my colleagues from n.e.h., including members of our national council and national trust being with us today and i thank judy for helping make these arrangements. my guests at the head table, you have heard them announced. they are passionate advocates for the humanities and i'm honored by their presence and grateful to friends and colleagues from other organizations and many friends here today from colby college, where i had the honor to serve as president for 14 years. thank you all for coming.
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i have come today particularly to announce an important new initiative at n.e.h., one i i think will bring humanities scholars and organizations to the forefront of discussions of american life. first by way of important context, i want to talk about n.e.h., its history and role in our cultural life in the united states. as myron said, on september 29 1965, nearly 50 years ago, president johnson signed the national foundation of the arts and humanities act. the act created the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities and it was part of a truly remarkable legislative agenda. consider this in a brief four-year span. the congress passed in addition to this act, the civil rights act of 1964, the voting rights
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act of 1964, the wilderness act of 1964. the social security amendments of 1965, which created medicare and medicaid, the national preservation trust act of 1966 and civil rights act of 1968 known as the fair housing act. wow. that's an amazing legacy. and the legacy of these pieces of legislation are still being debated here in washington and elsewhere around the country but there's no question at all that they changed this country profoundly and changed it forever. in the intervening 50 years, n.e.h. has changed some things. since its founding, the agency has made roughly 71,000 grants to individuals and organizations totaling approximately $5 billion and leveraging $2.4 billion in private philanthropy. these grants have supported scholars and teachers, colleges
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and universities, museums, libraries, historical associations and sites in every state and territory. they have funded documentaries museum curators, librarians and helped many large and small organizations, preserve documents and collections that serve as the building blocks of cultural memory and history. they have enabled scholars and organizations to exploit digital technology for research and presentation and the dissemination of humanities materials and resources. the most significant result of all this work and there have been many, but the most significant one has been the steady growth of what i call the cultural capital of the united states. we have had a lot of partners in this work, including humanities councils in every state and territory, state and local governments, private foundations
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and generous individuals. but without the endowment's leadership and without its symbolic authority and without its singular commitment to the entire nation's cultural legacy and capacity, our cultural foundations, which we all benefit today would be far less impressive and less appreciated by the american people and by many others around the world. the importance of cultural capital can be assessed and measured in a number of ways beginning with the depth of public engagement that it creates and sustains. and two programs i want to mention are exemplary. in the early 1970's under the leadership of the chairman n.e.h. made the decision to invest aggressively in museums and documentary film making and in television productions. the results were felt almost immediately. on the museum side, very important part of what we do
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n.e.h. grants supported large and hugely successful art exhibits in major museums including the exhibit in 1976, which was seen by nearly eight million people here in washington, new york los angeles, new orleans, san francisco, seattle and chicago. in new york alone, nearly 30% of the visitors were first time museum goers. this exhibit and several others like it and i'm sure betsy knows a great deal about this, changed the way museums think about their public and the way the public thinks about museums. it also led wonderfully to a steve martin song which you can still access on youtube. i did it the other day. n.e.h.'s investment in documentary film making has had
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extraordinary impact and ken burns' work stands out from all of the work we have done. the brooklyn bridge came out in 1982. followed by "life and times of huey long" and "civil war" and in the first viewing had 12 million viewers. ken's most recent film which many people have seen, "the roosevelts" was seen by 33 million people on public television stations across the country. these productions are very impressive and important to us but they represent only the tip of the iceberg of n.e.h.'s impact. millions more americans have been touched by the state humanities councils, museums historical associations by the work of n.e.h. funded scholars which include 18 pullitzer prizewinners and 20 bancroft prize winners. and by the courses these
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educators offered in the wake of their n.e.h. experience and there is also our web site which offers humanities resources to primary and secondary school teachers and draws more than three million visitors every year. public engagement really matters. it's very important to us, but cultural capital matters in other ways. two i want to mention briefly. the cultural economy is hugely important to the economic health of thousands of communities around the country. i came from one recently waterville, maine, and likely to matter more as the economy of the united states shifts from being a manufacturing economy to one based on financial services, health care, retail, education and so forth. more important still our democracy relies on the knowledge that citizens have of our political history and the
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principles and values that history was built upon in ensuring that this story is told broadly and powerfully is among n.e.h.'s most important responsibilities and its accomplishments. the legislation creating n.e.h. was inspired by the report of the national commission on the humanities, which was formed in 1963 through the combined energies of the american council of learned societies, the council of graduate schools and the united chapters of phi beta kappa. i am pleased to note that the leaders of these organizations are here today. the commission was chaired by bobby keeney, the president of brown university and n.e.h.'s first chairman, and it included an array of university administrators, scholars librarians and museum directors. interestingly, it included tom watson junior, the second
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president of i.b.m. and ambassador to the soviet union who knew a thing or two about cultural imagination and technological innovation. the commission had several basic arguments for the establishment of these agencies devoted to arts and humanities that were later used in the founding legislation. i want to mention them briefly. here they are. the humanities embraced the human values of justice, freedom, equality, virtue, beauty and truth. without the deliberate cultivation of these virtues in the public sphere, we risk losing sight of them. american democracy demands that it's citizens understand its history and fundamental principles and values. the humanities promote the kind of cross cultural and multi cultural understanding that is required in an increasingly interconnected world. given its economic and military power in the world, the united
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states must be a leader in the realm of the spirit and ideas and therefore has a compelling state interest in developing humanistic knowledge and institutions. shaping all of these arguments was the conviction that n.e.h. would have to be focused at once on two related, but slightly spheres of activity. on the one hand, the agency would have to invest in fundamental research in the various fields composing the humanities, philosophy, literary study, history, language political theory and forth. at the same time, the founders and particularly i found early supporters in congress were also determined that humanities research have public meaning influence, and impact. the legislation declared, quote, the humanities belong to all the people of the united states and accordingly n.e.h. had to be
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committed not only to the cultivation but the best what has been thought and known and in the repeated words of matthew arnold, to the public and where the public actually lives. "the current conditions of national life." that's also from the legislation. an early member of our national council and was an official in the atlanta public school system expressed this populist impulse in a wonderful way, which i love. when he called for the n.e.h. to broaden the general area of the humanities as the equipment of all the citizens. and so for nearly 50 years n.e.h.'s carried on its work with these twin purposes in mind to ensure leadership in the realm of ideas and in the spirit while engaging the humanities with the public and with the circumstances of contemporary life. this marriage of what we think
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of or what might think of as the classical and pragmatic or the scholarly and the popular has not always been easy quite frankly. like many marriages, my wife discouraged me from saying most marriages -- [laughter] -- like many marriages, it has experienced misunderstanding and even jealousy. but it's also been enormously creative and vital to the success in building the cultural capital of the country. it is with that achievement in mind and with an eye to the celebration of our 50th anniversary that the agency is officially announcing a new initiative called the common good, the humanities in the public square. the purpose of this initiative is to engage humanities scholars with complex issues playing out in our public lives and to demonstrate the relevance and the power of the humanities in addressing those issues.
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the notion of the common good itself should be familiar to us. it central to political theory and practice and expresses both the right and the obligation of citizens to debate the general welfare. it is the aspirational goal and guiding ambition that anchors citizenship in democratic politics. evoking the sense of aspiration, i found this passage recently, ben franklin said it well, to pour forth benefits of the common good is divine. so our hope at n.e.h. is to encourage humanities scholars and organizations to turn their attention toward public life. more specifically the initiative invites them to engage in illuminating the grand challenges that we now face as a nation. no list of such challenges is definitive, but here are a few that many have a lot to say.
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how can the humanities illuminate the positive ways in which the remarkable advances in information technology are affecting individuals and communities in contemporary american human life. how can it enrich the debate over the appropriate balance of security and privacy or security and liberty that technological advances have placed before us. i dare say that in the wake of the events in france, these questions will become urgent. how can the humanities to keep -- how can the humanities deepen the understanding of the meaning of democratic citizenship. how can the humanities contribute to the understanding of the relationships between humans and the natural world another very urgent matter. how can the humanities illuminate the recent wars and conflicts and contribute to a deeper understanding of the experience of war.
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how can the humanities contribute to the full incorporation of veterans into civilian life and help all of us appreciate their unique perspectives. how can the humanities assist the country in addressing the challenges and opportunities created by the changing demographics in many american communities. how can the humanities illuminate the promise of new biomedical technologies and procedures and deepen our understanding of the complex ethical questions that they raise. beginning this month, n.e.h. will welcome proposals in all of our appropriate grant programs for projects that draw on the resources and methods of the humanities to engage public understanding -- in public understanding of these and other important dimensions of our lives. several specific areas are worth mentioning.
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a few weeks ago in anticipation of today's announcement, we launched the public scholars program which provide support to -- for well researched books intended to reach a broad public audience. it aims scholarship that will be of interest broadly to the public and will have lasting impact. under the rubric of the common good, the endowment intends to expand its standing together initiative, which supports projects and grants connecting humanities to the experience of veterans and war. this initiative has supported work in 50 states and all the territories through a special grant we made last spring and we hope it will provide even more support in the next budget year. as part of the common good initiative, we are very pleased to announce today a new collaboration with the andrew w. mellon foundation. i am so pleased that phil lewis is here. the open book project is designed to give second life to outstanding out of print books in the humanities by making them freely accessible to the public as ebooks.
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i will say that again, freely accessible as ebooks. this is our first collaboration of this kind with mellon, who has been a leading funder of the humanities since its founding in 1969. and finally, the museum, libraries and cultural programs at n.e.h. will encourage programs that reach new underserved or underrepresented audiences. in this regard, we just announced a major partnership with the american library association supporting community programs nationwide on the theme of latino americans 500 years of history. we believe that the common good is important and timely for several reasons. first, we are convinced that the common good will be good for the humanities and humanity scholarship. we are aware of recent criticism that humanists have been too inwardly and professionally focused.
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this initiative will provide encouragement to scholars who wish to demonstrate their professional abilities and interests to american life. my recent experience in talking about this with people suggests that this encouragement will be welcomed. within the academy, there is growing concern about the confines that the tenure system places on what is and is not regarded as legitimate scholarship. and beyond the academy, i think there is a hunger for the particular angle of vision that humanists can bring. nicholas kristof in a piece in the "new york times," a piece you might have seen, quote, for me, the humanities are not only relevant, but also give us a toolbox to think seriously about ourselves and about the world. the prospect of thinking seriously about ourselves in the world is what drew me and most humanists i know into the
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profession. we were convinced that ideas matter in the every day world. we believe that the humanities are valuable because their study deepens our capacity to sort out the meaning of our experience. i know this in a very particular way, returning from the vietnam war and the turbulence in the 1960's, the humanities offered me a way of thinking about what i had witnessed. i found in them perspective and meaning and since coming to n.e.h., i have been very pleased to note that other more recent combat veterans have been affected in a similar way by some of the programs we have offered to veterans. a more engaged and public facing humanities profession will be good for the country as well for most of the great challenges we face as a nation. the challenges that define our
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times and that will increasingly determine our future are not essentially problems of a technical or scientific nature. they are almost exclusively about our values, about our fundamental beliefs and ideas and assumptions, about our histories, and about our cultures. these are the proper domains of the humanities and its learning and its thinking. the public facing humanities can help us understand where we have been, what we value and believe and where we're headed. by way of example and at the risk of being a little too provocative and topical, consider the scorching experience we have been through in the last few months in this country regarding the issue of race. this is hardly a new topic in american history and life. but it's one that appeared to some for a brief period of time to have become less pressing. it's hard to believe now, but
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remember that in the wake of the election in 2008, some people even spoke of a post-racial society. and then came ferguson and staten island. it's not clear how this difficult passage we're in now and the broader conditions from which it comes will be resolved and what exactly resolution means, but i think most people would agree that there can be no adequate understanding of our current situation without a better appreciation of the history of race relations in the united states, of our cultural assumptions and divisions and the ways in which we actually live in and perceive the world. plenty of work there for historians and social philosophers, among others. plenty of ground for reflection and questioning for all of us. i could use other examples, but i think you see my point.
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we need the forms of understanding and knowledge embodied in the humanities historical knowledge, cultural knowledge, emotional and psychological knowledge because they illuminate our lives. they insert us more deeply into our own experience. the result is not the sudden disappearance of the things that vex us, but a deeper understanding of who we are, how we got here and how we might lead better lives. i know that words like insight understanding, and illumination make people short tempered. i can hear them say, they never get to the bottom of things. and of course, that's true. if by the bottom of things we mean, the end, as in a cure for disease. but, if we're honest with ourselves about how we live and our personal lives and in our lives with others, we know that
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we never get to the bottom of things in this particular sense, but sometimes we get wiser. i do not mean by this to undervalue other forms of knowledge, stem, the science and technology is important to us and the country and we have invested a great deal of time, energy and resources in the advancement of stem in the government, in education and in the private sector, but as we do, we must keep other important investments in mind, especially our investments in the humanities. not just because they are the source of great beauty and pleasure, which of course they are, but because we depend upon these forms of knowledge just as surely as we depend on scientific knowledge. the national endowment for the humanities will certainly continue its investments in research, in education, in public programs of all kinds and the preservation of cultural and historical materials, in the
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digital humanities, in institution building and state and local humanities organizations and the cultural capital of this country will continue to expand as a result. in major cultural institutions cities, libraries, museums historical sites and colleges, universities and high schools and in the work of humanities scholars. and by way of the common good, we will make a difference by encouraging humanities scholars to think and speak about things that matter in the public world. we all can make a difference in this sense. if i'm right that the humanities are central to the preservation of our cultural legacy and history and capacity to address the challenges we face as a nation, then they are everyone's business, everyone's responsibility. we need to defend them. we need to promote them, and we need to support the institutions in which they live and flourish. n.e.h. will celebrate its 100
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birthday in 2065 to learn how the next 50 years have gone and an additional $5 billion will have contributed to our country's cultural resources. but some future chair will be maybe here speaking to the humanities community and its friends about the impact of 50 more years of leadership and grantmaking, and i'm certain the report will be worth hearing. in the meantime, thank you for coming today and for your interests and support of the national endowment for the humanities. thank you very much. [applause]
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>> thank you, chairman adams for a very insightful speech and as a journalist, thank you for making news with the announcement about the common good initiative. first question, at the n.e.h., you are championed a new public scholar program to in your words to inspire humanities scholars to do a different kind of work to make sure it enters into the public realm, where it can matter and have impact. what kind of impact do you feel public scholarship can and should have in our society today? >> thank you for the question. well, as i was just saying, i think that kind of work can enter into this broad realm of public discussion of these matters that are so important to us and that they will in that way provide greater insight into where we go with those issues. we all live and we are always
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engaged in our history, our culture, ideas, and values. and to the degree that humanists can contribute to that, it will do a lot of public good. humanists don't agree about these things, so there will be discussion and debate. but by attaching themselves to those problems and to those challenges that humanities scholars can make a great difference in our public discourse. >> the new initiative is called the common good. the humanities in the public square. what is the 21st century's public square? >> complicated. the public square has sort of a resonnance of different times
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when we can all gather around a town square and debate the public good. of course, we are a very far flung country now. we are big in numbers, big in territory and have this new and revolutionary thing called information technology and the internet to deal with. public square looks and feels quite different from what it used to be. i think are interesting questions on exactly what information has done to the public square and how it has changed it. we are going to many different kinds of ways to these aims, including ways that are more congenial to that sphere. and all associated things. who knows, we might be supporting scholarship soon. that is no longer expressed in a scholarly monograph.
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the on the book, maybe going yonder the book. indeed, i don't think we went than the book, we would be losing ground. that is part of the meditation on public scholar program and how those thoughts and contributions will be expressed. >> when you became the chair, he spoke about the two strains of public humanities. the legacy of matthew arnold's idea and how humanities enrich us because they are open to the rest of what we have, thought and said your co- -- and said." in today's diverse and global universe, there is still timeless questions.
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>> i think there are such questions and for example, in some of the veteran programming we have done, we have supported a very unique entity at n.y.u. and they have been using greek tragedy in and with the production, support provided by and for veterans. and it's been very interesting for me to see how timeless those texts are with respect to the issues that veterans are facing. i attended a reading group in maine, funded by n.e.h. through our state group in maine, the maine humanities council in which veterans of three wars were reading "the odyessy.” the book is about coming home from war. and i was again quite struck and pleased by how passionate these participants were about that texan how revealing they felt it was. so there are some dimensions of
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these timeless attributes of the humanities. but we need to be attentive to the ways in which our current cultural circumstances has shaped all of these questions. and i think combining the best of what has been said with our current dilemmas, challenges opportunities, that's where the real power of this material comes out. but we need to be attentive to the ways in which our current cultural circumstances has shaped all of these questions. and i think combining the best of what has been said with our current dilemmas, challenges opportunities, that's where the real power of this material comes out. >> is there such a thing as, quote, cultural literacy unquote, that underlies civic engagement and ideas about the public good? >> absolutely. and the reason i mentioned more than once in my talk, this american political tradition historical and philosophical
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theoretical, literacy involves a deep acquaintance with those things. i'm worried about the level and intensity of political participation. a lot of people worrying about this. it's not going to get better certainly without a real national commitment to those cultural and historical legacies and to the revisiting of what that original material means in the contemporary, political and social context. so re-engaging civic engage innocent in that sense is a big thing for n.e.h. and democratic politics in the united states. >> the follow-on question, is political partisanship eroding the common good? and if so, what can be done about that? \[laughter]
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>> that's an easy question. is it eroding it? absolutely. and the sense of national community that's necessary to democratic politics has i think been bad little affected by that kind of oppositional politics. i suggested in my remarks when i mentioned the challenges that we face, that this challenge, the intensity of these political and almost always cultural divisions as being important material for humanists to take up. so without having an answer, i would say that as a field for discussion for discussion,
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writing, communication and expression, it's a largely important question. and we ought to be letting ourselves loose as humanists on that question in trying to understand those divisions better, what drives them, and how we might find our way to other forms of community. so i don't have an answer. i do have some medicine. [laughter] >> how can the humanities help i will ume ate the debate between security and privacy in our digital world? >> well, as i said, this is a very urgent question and has become urgent because of our own recent history with what some people regard to be overly invasive forms of technological intrusion, so it has been a big issue here. the snowden controversy raised it in another way and now been raised another way in france. and how we balance these things, how we provide room for both sides of this value proposition in our lives and in the work of our government and official and unofficial organizations i think is hugely important. i think again here, this is an
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area where people a lot smarter than i am and with a lot more specific knowledge have a lot to say. i was talking with one of our grantees, jeff rosen, at the national constitution center and we hope to have some kind of discussion there at the center on the constitutional issues that are present here. but to get beyond the material into a more deliberate and well-paced reflection, for example, in the context of our constitutional past and guarantees of liberty and so forth i think would be very helpful. we are going to be tested seriously on this. but to get beyond the material into a more deliberate and well-paced reflection, for example, in the context of our constitutional past and guarantees of liberty and so forth i think would be very helpful.
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france, a place i know something about, is really going to be tested in the next few weeks and months and years, i dare say. so it's going to be a more important conversation and i think whether it's from a constitutional point of view or other kinds of philosophical points of view, i think again it's something that humanists can ventilate and help us think through. >> speaking of the digital world, it seems that the internet is designed to shorten attention spans. that being the case, do you have
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any concerns that young people who live through their phones and communicate primarily through text will never develop an appreciation for the humanities? >> yes, i do. lots. suggests two things to me. we've got to be more creatively engaged, all of us, and other organizations that support educational institutions in the implication of that technology in school settings for the way in which the humanities curriculum is advanced and talked about and presented and taught. we haven't done much in that area, and i think we have to approach it. i think we also have to find and we're doing this, i think much more at n.e.h. than the first, is we need to find ways of making humanities material -- what's the right way to put this? presentable, understandable and
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engagingly available in all kinds of technological settings. we have started working -- i hope this doesn't surprise people in this room, we have worked on things like games and apps and other things that make this technology connect to some of the humanities work that people are doing. so we need to do much more of that, too. but i think all of us in the ways we are involved with secondary education have to also be involved with this in schools and curriculum, decisions, school planning. i'm not a secondary school teacher. i have a daughter who is just graduating from high school. i know what her attention span is like. and i don't think it's just that she doesn't like talking to me. i think there's a lot of work to be done there. >> today's headlines show the polarizing and political and cultural issues that permeate american life. how can the humanities enrich public understanding about the meaning and opportunities of democratic citizenship today? can the humanities enable people
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to connect to our founding principles and values in 21st century terms? >> yes. absolutely. i was reading an interesting piece by robert bella and he talked about a philosopher in the american setting and talking about important moments in civic humanism. and he said the most important moment in civic humanism in american history was the founding or the constitutional founding. here you have a bunch of very smart people, madison, jefferson, hamilton and others writing pieces, i think the contemporary thing would be blogs, writing things in newspapers, now collected in the
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federalist papers and arguing about the constitution. of course, there was another side to this, which we don't remember, the anti-federalists. they were smart people, too. they lost the argument, but it was an argument and it was one that took place in a very public space. the space of newspapers as they then were understood. and these authors, brilliant amazing people, who by the way were deeply versed in the humanities tradition, going all the way back to the roman and greek republics or democracies. they were making these arguments in a very public way to the people who were going to decide this. there are other moments of great civic humanism in american history, but we need to gen up
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another one now and connect it to the past and connect it to the public institutions and all of that. but it's very lively. it's very important. we don't do it very well, i don't think. we talk in ways about the constitution and the declaration. we don't often read it and talk about it. we also don't bring it forward and play it out in our contemporary circumstances and we need to do much more of that. >> in 1965, president johnson signed legislation establishing the national endowment for the arts and the national endowment for the humanities. and in 1996, the institute of library services was created. these three federal grant-making organizations constitute our country's arts and culture policy makers. isn't it time to consolidate these functions and have a secretary of the arts?
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>> secretary of the arts and humanities. >> i'm sure the white house would like editing in that suggestion. >> that question has been asked by my wife. it is a fair and interesting question. i have been reading a lot in the history of our agency and sort of just next door to it, n.e.a.'s history, and you know, we have had 50 years now of this separation, not in spirit, of course, but in working fact. and for a lot of reasons, i think personally, it would be very hard to consolidate these organizations and include the ilns and in the resource of building capital in the united states. i think it would be difficult. it's not inconceivable.
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so i don't want to say it's inconceivable. but it would be hard. i do think there are ways in which we could enjoy many more collaborative efficiencies. by the way, the o.m.b. agrees with me on this, because they talk to us a lot about it, and that's a good thing. they should. so i see there could be a lot more integrated, probably on the administrative side. on the programming side, 50 years is a long time, so it will need to be chairs of those organizations and leaders of those organizations, including ilns who have a lot of courage and patience. >> what is the funding outlook for the n.e.h. under the new republican congress? do you anticipate budget cuts? and if so how will your agency cope with them?
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>> it's a question on everyone's lips obviously in these agencies and beyond. and the simple answer is i don't know. and i don't think anybody knows frankly yet. i will say this that as i have visited with members of our appropriations committees in both the senate and the house, i have been impressed by how well the members are able to grab on to and connect to what we do in ways that are important to them.
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this question about democracy, history, political fundamentals resonates virtually with everybody. but there are many other ways in which i think members are interested in what we do, and they understand what we do. so naturally, we'll be talking a lot about what we actually do and these grants are so important, 71,000 over 50 years, because they touch local communities. every one of them almost is about a local community in some way. so we got to keep making that
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pitch. we also need to make this argument about the public relevance of the humanities and how not only much poorer we would be without them and without the work we do, but how much -- how incapacitated we would become if we didn't have the leadership of these entities doing what they do. >> i was just talking about this with a few people this morning. i think we have to -- we have to think about the most important things, first of all, and decide what those are and attack those. and also sort them out. are they things that reasonably can be pursued within that timetable. there is a way in which -- and i hope it's true -- that i and my administration at n.e.h. might
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have a longer life than that and i hope that is the case. but we do understand that there's this big moment coming. so we are trying to be careful in the way we think about priorities and the scope of the work that we agree to take on. we don't want to take on things that couldn't reasonably be done say for eight years. well, that's too far. so we are trying as best we can to sort these out and be prudent about them. >> some questioners have a concern about the election two years from now or rather next year. would you be open to staying on to serve in the next administration regardless of the political party of the next president? [laughter] >> i think so. you know, i'm not a deeply experienced person in washington. n.e.h. and n.e.a. and others are
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independent agencies. the work that we do do not carry out or execute in any simple sense an administration's policy in most of the ways we understand that, because we give grants and we are giving grants according to the excellence and impressiveness and persuasiveness of the grantees. i could imagine in a new administration with a different party, that work could be done by me and my colleagues in a way that has integrity and meaning. so it is conceivable that that could happen, but i don't know what's going to happen. so, we'll see. >> thank you for responding to the question. [laughter]
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>> this is the question before we have what is known as the last question. 2015 marks the beginning of the 50th anniversary commemorations of the vietnam war. you served in that war. 50 years on, do you see a lasting effect of that war on our nation's collective sense of its own identity? >> wow! that's a humanities question if i ever heard one. yes, in some ways i do. i do. i mentioned this amazing legislative agenda that the johnson administration had coming out of the kennedy administration. and what's so impressive to me about that time and that achievement is that it was achieved in circumstances that were extraordinarily difficult. now just remember, there are a lot of people in this room who do remember how tough those times were and that all of this
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happened in the midst of those circumstances is really quite amazing to me. i think there are ways in which that turbulence has affected me and others of my generation. and so in many ways that are cultural and many ways that are political, i think we are a very different place because of that. however, at the same time, we find ourselves coming out of now, what, more than 15 years of almost continuous conflict in circumstances and in sort of political frameworks that are not hugely different. we're still talking about counterinsurgency and counterinsurgency theory. and so -- one of the reasons why i'm so interested in the question of the legacy of war is how we as a people think about what we have been through. and keeping the memory of what we have been through alive. and that's difficult. that's a difficult thing to do. but it's very important that we


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