Trump Threatens Humanities Funding

By Cassandra Sottile
Elm Staff Writer
The Trump administration recently announced that the funding for the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) and the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) would be cut, which could have a significant effect on Washington College.
Dr. Kevin Brien, professor of philosophy, has attended three fellowships all funded by the NEH.
“I attended a two-month seminar on scientific revolution at the University of Maryland. At that seminar, I learned invaluable teachings and had my own personal development,” Dr. Brien said. “Nietzsche once said that the, ‘most valuable insights are arrived at last, but the most valuable insights are methods.’ I believe this is especially true in today’s world, where we must extend the method of thinking and conquer mainstream knowledge.”
The NEA partners with 20 government and non-profit agencies at all levels to support arts education, protect America’s cultural heritage, and reinforce inclusive access to the arts in every U.S. state and U.S. territory. The NEA has awarded over 145,000 grants since its founding in 1965.
According to “Pen America,” the NEH promotes historical and cultural understanding as a basis for an informed democracy, and is one of the largest supporters of U.S. research, education, public programming, and historical preservation in the humanities through grants and fellowships for scholarly work as well as community, cultural, and educational institutions. NEH has supported the training of 95,598 teachers and professors, the production of over 7,000 books, and has funded 56,000 lectures, discussions and exhibitions and the creation of thousands of projects, such as the United States Newspaper Program, which cataloged 63.3 million pages of historic newspapers for free public access. The total funding allocated to the NEA and NEH constitutes less than .001 percent of federal spending.
Professor of archaeology Charles Fithian also benefited from the NEH. “My work in the 17th century town St. Mary’s City was funded by the NEH. All the principle buildings, market green, and the major streets were constructed. The field and lab work was all funded by the NEH,” he said.
Professors Fithian and Brien acknowledged the importance of the NEA and NEH as major funders for humanities and facilitators of projects across the U.S.
“We must protect this interest. The NEA and NEH increase our cultural awareness in the world and provide people with ways to access and increase their knowledge through funded projects,” Fithian said.
“The NEA and NEH foster and strengthen our knowledge. Not just WC, but other universities across the country are drifting away from the humanities and inclining more towards business. We must protect these endowments, otherwise we will be in a cultural decline,” Dr. Brien said.
Students can write letters to Congress to make them aware of the urgency to protect the funding of both endowments. Students can find a list of representatives at:
“The NEA and NEH are something to be protected because they help us gain knowledge and real facts about the world and each other. We would know a lot less about St. Mary’s City if it had not been for the NEH,” Fithian said.
Dr. Brien echoed his sentiments. “Without the NEA and NEH, we would be unable to sift through values and knowledge and would require new ways of thinking and imagining.”

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