Thursday, June 20, 2013

Academy of Arts and Sciences on the Importance of the Liberal Arts

In case you haven't seen it yet, the American Academy of Arts & Sciences has released a report, entitled "The Heart of the Matter," calling for the revitalization of the humanities and other liberal arts disciplines.  The authors of the report ask "who will lead America into a bright future?"  Here is the answer it proposes:

Citizens who are educated in the broadest possible sense, so that they can participate in their own governance and engage with the world.  An adaptable and creative workforce.  Experts in national security, equipped with the cultural understanding, knowledge of social dynamics, and language proficiency to lead our foreign service and military through complex global conflicts.  Elected officials and a broader public who exercise civil political discourse, founded on an appreciation of the ways our differences and commonalities have shaped our rich history.  We must prepare ourselves and invest in the next generation to be these enlightened leaders.

The report continues:

As we strive to create a move civil public discourse, a more adaptable and creative workforce, and a more secure nation, the humanities and social sciences are the heart of the matter, the keeper of the republic--a source of national memory and civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common.

The report identifies three goals for advancing the humanities:

1.  "Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first century democracy."  This requires investments in literacy education, civic education, greater access to online sources and teaching materials, and public engagement.

2."Foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong."  This requires investment in research, a plan to communicate the importance of the humanities to the public, a strong humanities-based curriculum in schools, and support for teachers.

3. "Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world."  This requires the promotion of language learning, the expansion of education in international affairs, and the support of study abroad programs.

Members of the commission who worked on this report include: David Brooks, Ken Burns, Gerald Early, Drew Gilpin Faust, Dana Gioia, Annette Gordon-Reed, and Anthony Grafton.

This sounds great.  Let's get started!  Where do I sign up!