National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman William D. “Bro” Adams recently announced a new NEH initiative focused on the humanities in public life.
Chairman Adams introduced “The Common Good: The Humanities in the Public Square,” an agency-wide NEH initiative designed to demonstrate the critical role humanities scholarship can play in our public life and that recalls the agency’s dual role of ensuring leadership in the realm of ideas and cultivating humanities in the public sphere.
“The notion of ‘the common good’ should be familiar to us,” said Chairman Adams in a statement. “It is central to democratic political theory and expresses both the right and the obligation of citizens to debate and determine the general welfare; it is the aspirational goal, the guiding ambition that anchors citizenship and participation in democratic politics.”
The Common Good will encourage humanities scholars to turn their attentions to topics that have widespread resonance with the American people and that lend themselves to the methods and concerns of the humanities, the chairman said.
“We’re all aware of recent criticisms that humanists have become too inwardly and professionally focused,” said Adams. “This initiative will provide encouragement and support to humanities scholars who wish to demonstrate the relevance of their professional interests and skills to American life.”
NEH said it has already taken steps toward this goal with the creation of two new NEH grant programs: the Public Scholar Grant Program, which seeks to encourage the publication of nonfiction books that apply serious humanities scholarship to subjects of general interest and appeal; and Humanities Open Book, a new joint grant program with the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation that aims to “unlock” great out-of-print humanities books by republishing them as freely accessible e-books.
The Common Good initiative will also encompass the agency’s existing Standing Together initiative, Adams said, which supports projects and grants connecting the humanities to the experiences of war and veterans.
To learn more, visit www.neh.gov/commongood.