American Academy of Arts and Sciences Establishes Commission on Humanities and Social Sciences


By Stephanie Murg Comment

From Emmylou Harris to Billie Tsien. It’s not the subtitle of a new feminist reader but one way to describe the membership of a new national commission created to bolster teaching and research in the humanities and social sciences. Formed by the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in response to a bipartisan request from Congress, the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences will be chaired by Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University, and John W. Rowe, chairman and CEO of Exelon Corporation. Heavy on university presdents, the 43-member commission also includes the aforementioned Harris and Tsien, Smithsonian secretary G. Wayne Clough, filmmaker Ken Burns, Adobe chairman John E. Warnock, and James Cuno, director and president of the Art Institute of Chicago. Journalist David Brooks and actor John Lithgow are also among those tapped to assist the Academy in responding to this doozy of a Congressional charge:

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?

With funding from the Mellon Foundation, the Commission will focus on education, research, and the institutions critical to advancing the humanities and social sciences in the first comprehensive national assessment of the state of the the humanities since the 1980 report of the Rockefeller Commission on the Humanities.