On Friday, May 15, over 80 peoples attended an INconversation with National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman William Adams, presented by Indiana Humanities in partnership with WFYI Public Media. The audience enjoyed an insightful and thoughtful conversation moderated by former Indiana Supreme Court Chief Justice Randall T. Shepard. Following are four things we learned during the discussion:
1. Our nation faces grand challenges and the humanities can help. Whether it’s the ability to edit the human genome; the intersection of poverty, race and violence in places like Baltimore; or the return of thousands of veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan, we’ve got some thorny issues ahead of us. The humanities are key to helping us understand our experiences and talking about our values so we can decide how to solve the 21st century’s big tests.
2. There’s work to be done to connect the humanities and business. Hiring managers need to know the valuable skills of liberal arts students and parents would be surprised to learn how many corporate leaders studied history, rhetoric, philosophy and other humanities fields. Critical thinking, creative problem-solving and understanding global perspectives are just some skills employers seek and humanities students have.
3. Claiborne Pell, the sponsor of the legislation that created the NEH, would be proud of the evolution towards a more public-facing Endowment. Initiatives such as The Common Good and the work of state councils like Indiana Humanities help the general public experience the delight, curiosity, and insights the humanities offer. The Common Good has new grants to encourage more accessible public scholarship, to raise big questions in the public sphere, and help grassroots organizations document and preserve their cultural heritage.
4. Hoosiers are passionate about the humanities and we collaborate in unique ways to ensure their continued vibrancy. Civic and business leaders, directors of major cultural organizations and scholars and educators from across the state gathered to welcome the Chairman. The power we collectively hold to bring the humanities to the center of Indiana’s civic and cultural life is awesome—and Indiana Humanities is proud to be at the nexus.