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The Heart of the Matter

Yesterday the American Academy of Arts and Sciences Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences released their report—The Heart of the Matter:  The Humanities & Social Sciences for a Vibrant, Competitive, & Secure Nation.   The report is the response to a bipartisan request from  members of Congress:  “What are the top actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors, and other people should take now to maintain national excellence in humanities and social scientific scholarship & education, & to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual & economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?”

Heart of the Matter cover

The three goals & thirteen recommendations articulate an agenda which resonates with me.

Goal 1:  Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, & understanding they will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy.  The National Archives has, from its beginnings, had an educational mission and today, as civic literacy is at its lowest ebb, that mandate is ever more important.  The creation of and access to online resources & teaching materials provide the tools for “citizens to participate meaningfully in the democratic process” articulated in one of the recommendations.

Goal 2:  Foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong.  Supporting innovative research and discovery through our National Historical Publications & Research Commission grants program has, since its creation, enhanced access to research content around the nation.  In addition, our nascent travel grants program, funded by the Foundation for the National Archives, addresses the “Increase investment in research & discovery” & “Communicate the importance of research to the public” recommendations associated with this goal.

Goal 3:  Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected globe.  Working with our international colleagues in the archive, library, & museum community we have myriad opportunities to share, learn, & support transnational research and study.  The International Open Government Partnership, for instance, provides a platform for such international collaboration.

I will encourage you to read the report & think about how our work can contribute to the goals outlined.  To quote from the report:  “As we strive to create a more civil public discourse, a more adaptable & creative workforce, & 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 & civic vigor, cultural understanding and communication, individual fulfillment and the ideals we hold in common.”

Source: aotus.blogs.archives.gov

Updated: June 20, 2013 — 3:49 pm

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