Petition to Congress to Save the National Endowment for the Humanities

“The arts and humanities belong to all the people of the United States.”

These words introduce the Congressional Act that established the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) in 1965. Congress recognized that scholarship in the humanities emerges from private initiatives, but insisted that public investment in education, research, and culture serves the common good in ways that strengthen American democracy. A half century later, the NEH has succeeded in making ideas and culture more accessible in all 50 states by supporting museums, libraries, historical societies, schools, online educational resources and other initiatives that contribute to the richness of American life.

Now this wonderful success story—a story of partnership with local humanities councils—is in jeopardy. President Trump has proposed cutting the entire budget of the NEH, not shrinking it but eliminating it altogether. In 1965, American lawmakers understood that democracy requires wisdom and vision, and they created the NEH as a way to support those qualities in American life.  The President does not believe we can afford that kind of investment. Scholars of the humanities, along with scientists and social scientists, at the University of Pennsylvania, vehemently oppose the President’s proposal because we know the tremendous losses to scholarship and to American culture that will occur if Congress agrees to end the NEH.

The survival of the NEH is not a partisan issue. The NEH has drawn support from both Democrats and Republicans who recognize this agency as vital to supporting economic development, strengthening communities and broadening the horizons of the underprivileged. The benefits are real, and they are widespread. NEH-funded programs have helped to rehabilitate prisoners by giving them opportunities to learn and be creative; supported rural communities seeking to teach their young people about their history; and promoted responsible citizenship by fostering critical thought and conversation across different sectors of American society. Annual spending for the NEH represents a tiny fraction of the federal budget, barely more per capita than a single postage stamp. Leaders from both parties have recognized this modest expense as a worthy investment in the vitality of American culture and society.

In establishing the NEH, Congress recognized what a democracy needs to flourish—a nation willing to cultivate its inquisitive spirit and creativity; open to diversity and new ideas; and committed to passing its traditions and memories on to the next generation. In 1965, America was fighting a war and confronting formidable social problems, yet its leaders found the will and the resources to support the humanities and the arts. That is the kind of leadership we need today. We, the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania,

This petition was signed by 192 faculty.


Arts & Sciences News

The Power of Penn Arts & Sciences

On April 12, 2018, the Power of Penn Arts & Sciences fundraising campaign was announced by the Board of Overseers. Launched in conjunction with the University’s Power of Penn campaign, it aims to raise $550 million for the School of Arts and Sciences.

View Article >
2018 Penn Arts and Sciences Dean’s Scholars

Penn Arts and Sciences has named 20 students from the College of Arts and Sciences, the College of Liberal and Professional Studies, and the Graduate Division as Dean’s Scholars. This honor is presented annually to students who exhibit exceptional academic performance and intellectual promise.

View Article >
Joseph Subotnik Named Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor

Joseph Subotnik, Professor of Chemistry, has been named Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Professor of Chemistry. A theoretical chemist who focuses on electronic processes in the condensed phase, Dr. Subotnik has made key contributions in electronic structure theory, chemical dynamics, and statistical mechanics.

View Article >
Two Penn Arts and Sciences Professors Named Guggenheim Fellows

Charles L. Bosk, Professor of Sociology, and Charles Yang, Professor of Linguistics and Computer Science, have been awarded 2018 John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation fellowships.

View Article >
Ahmad Family Endowment Supports Penn Global Seminars

Hyder Ahmad, W’90, and his family have made a generous gift to establish the Ahmad Family Endowment for Penn Global Seminars in Arts and Sciences.

View Article >
Abraham Nitzan Named Donner Professor of Physical Sciences

Abraham Nitzan, Professor of Chemistry, has been named Donner Professor of Physical Sciences. Nitzan’s research focuses on the interaction of light with molecular systems, chemical reactions in condensed phases and interfaces and charge transfer processes in such environments.

View Article >
2018 Teaching Award Recipients Announced

Steven J. Fluharty, Dean of Penn Arts and Sciences, and Paul Sniegowski, Stephen A. Levin Family Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, have announced the recipients of the 2018 awards for distinguished teaching in the School.

View Article >
College Graduation Speakers for 2018 Revealed

Angela Duckworth, G’03, GR’06, Christopher H. Browne Distinguished Professor of Psychology, will address the Class of 2018 at the graduation ceremony for the College of Arts and Sciences on Sunday, May 13, 2018. She will be joined by student speaker Helena von Nagy, C’18.

View Article >
Individualized Care Will Become the Standard for Depression Patients

In a new paper for the Annual Review of Clinical Psychology, researchers Robert DeRubeis, Samuel H. Preston Term Professor in the Social Sciences, and Zachary Cohen of Psychology, address precision medicine, also known as customized-care, in the context of treatment for depression.

View Article >
Restoring Vacant Lots Reduces Gun Violence and Crime

In cities across the U.S., about 15 percent of land is considered vacant or abandoned. These areas can foster criminal activity, and urban residents, especially those in low-income neighborhoods, often view vacant land as a threat to their health and safety.

View Article >
Robert DeRubeis: Samuel H. Preston Term Professor in the Social Sciences

Professor of Psychology Robert DeRubeis has been named the Samuel H.

View Article >