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NHA Quarterly Column: Next Steps in the Fight to #SavetheNEH

Next Steps in the Fight to #SavetheNEH

By: Beatrice Gurwitz

Two days before President Trump’s inauguration, we awoke to reports that the transition team was contemplating a proposal to eliminate funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA). On March 16, after almost two months of near silence on the subject, the administration released a budget blueprint even more threatening to humanities programs than had been initially reported. The administration’s proposal not only recommends the elimination of the NEH and the NEA, but also the Institute of Museum and Library Services and the Woodrow Wilson Center. Additionally, it calls for the “reduction or elimination” of the Department of Education’s Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs.

Over the past four months, the National Humanities Alliance has been working in close partnership with [association] and our other members to demonstrate support for the NEH. This campaign has resulted in nearly 150,000 messages and phone calls to Members of Congress and President Trump. A record-breaking number of humanities advocates joined us in Washington D.C. for Humanities Advocacy Day in March, visiting their congressional offices and making the case for robust funding for the NEH and other humanities programs. Advocates have published op-eds highlighting the local and national import of the NEH. Subsequent to the release of the budget blueprint, we have also launched grass-roots campaigns in support of the other agencies.

Since the Trump Administration released its plan in March, our attention has turned primarily to Congress, which will ultimately decide whether and at what level to fund the NEH and the other cultural agencies for FY 2018. As Congress begins its work, the budget committees will release their Congressional Budget Resolutions, which set an overall spending limit, but whose recommendations for specific discretionary programs are just advisory. The appropriations committees in each house will then draft twelve appropriations bills proposing funding levels for all discretionary spending, including for the NEH and other humanities programs. If those bills clear their committees, the full House and Senate will have to pass them. Finally, bills from each house will need to be reconciled in a conference committee. This is a long process that will likely stretch into the fall. Proposals to eliminate funding for the NEH and other humanities programs could gain traction at any point.

Reasons for Optimism

Trump’s budget proposal is just a proposal. Members of the appropriations committees have their own agendas and priorities, and have been largely supportive of the NEH and other humanities funding, particularly in the last two years. After passing a $2 million increase for NEH in FY 2016, Congress passed another $2 million increase for FY 2017 in early May. Further, Republican members of the House and Senate subcommittees that allocate funds to the NEH and the NEA have gone on record supporting the programs even in the face of the President’s proposal for FY 2018. Finally, letters to the President and to the appropriations committees requesting a $5 million increase for the NEH in FY 2018 have received bipartisan support.

Causes for Concern

While we anticipate that the appropriations committees will be supportive of the NEH, the upcoming FY 2018 appropriations process is likely to be prolonged and contentious as Congress struggles to abide by budget caps that were put in place as part of the 2011 budget deal. While the current cap may be renegotiated, if the resulting cap is still low, the Trump Administration’s efforts to increase defense and military construction spending would necessitate severe cuts to non-defense discretionary spending. This would leave the NEH, along with a wide range of other domestic programs, vulnerable to deep cuts or even elimination as appropriators are forced to make difficult choices. If the new budget cap is higher, appropriators will have more room for domestic spending.

We are also concerned that the call from the Trump Administration to eliminate funding for the NEH, the NEA, and the Corporation for Public Broadcasting will embolden those within Congress who have long sought to defund these agencies in particular. While this is unlikely to happen within the appropriations committees, opponents of the NEH could introduce an amendment to eliminate funding when either chamber considers the appropriations bill or during negotiations over the differences between House and Senate appropriations bills.

Advocacy Strategy

Given these concerns, we are working to raise awareness of the work that the NEH supports around the country and the diverse communities it serves. We are encouraging leaders of higher education institutions and other humanities organizations—as well as individual NEH grantees—to write letters to the editor about the transformative impact of the NEH. We are also working to expand our list of grassroots advocates so that Members of Congress receive as many calls and messages as possible at critical points in the appropriations process.

The [association] has been an indispensable ally in these efforts. Individual members can also play a key role as well. By starting with our Take Action page (http://www.nhalliance.org/take_action), you can sign up for our action alerts, write your Member of Congress, and share these links to our resources with family, friends, and colleagues. Sharing this advocacy campaign and other social media assets will help expand our network and demonstrate to Congress the deep support for NEH across the country.

While it is important to build support among all Members of Congress, the support of particular Members will be key at certain stages of the appropriations process. By signing up for our action alerts, encouraging others to do the same, and sharing our alerts on social media, you will also increase the likelihood that we can reach advocates in key districts.

This challenge to the NEH and other humanities programs has inspired an outpouring of support for federal humanities funding. Over the coming months, it is critical that we continue to mobilize even more advocates to increase public awareness of the impact of these programs and to ensure that Members of Congress continue to hear from their constituents.

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Fall 2016 Community College Humanities Review (CCHR) Journal Now Available!

CCHA’s flagship bi-annual publication, the Community College Humanities Review (CCHR), is back after being revamped by the new CCHR Editor, Sydney Elliott. You Copies of Volume 1 Issue 1 of the CCHR are now available for purchase through Amazon, and it is also available as a free digital download on the website for our CCHA members. CCHR 1.1 can be accessed HERE.

Continue reading Fall 2016 Community College Humanities Review (CCHR) Journal Now Available!

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CCHA Response to “The Executive Order on Immigration”

The Community College Humanities Association’s Statement on President Trump’s Executive Order on Immigration

The Community College Humanities Association (CCHA), representing community college humanities faculty across the United States, is deeply concerned about the implicit and explicit consequences of President Trump’s Executive Order that restricts the free movement of immigrants and predominantly Muslim refugees from Iran, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, and Yemen into the United States.

The CCHA Board of Directors and staff fully support Article 13(2) of the United Nations Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which states, “Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country,” and in the U.N.’s “recognition of the inherent dignity and of the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family,” and that this “is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world,” the ideals on which American democracy is founded and operates.

The President’s E.O. disrupts students and faculty who attend and teach college in the U.S. It also runs counter to the core principles of humanism, upsets the value and promise of human relationships, and disfavors the integrity of what we, as humanities faculty through the critical engagement of literature, history, philosophy, religious studies, foreign languages and cultures, seek to instill in all our students, a significant and increasing number of which come from countries other than the United States.

The CCHA stands for the fair treatment of any group regardless of their race, religion, ethnicity, gender, or sexual orientation. The CCHA also believes, as the U.N. declaration claims, that “disregard and contempt for human rights [is more likely to result] in barbarous acts which [will outrage] the conscience of mankind,” and that we call on the president to rescind this E.O., continue within the former framework to guard against terrorism, and welcome those who have already been vetted as well as honor the requests of those who are seeking freedom from persecution.

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Take Action to Support NEH funding! Get involved! Take Action to Support NEH funding!

Help us TAKE ACTION today to support the continued funding of the NEH! Please help us and do your part to support the humanities by accessing the links below and taking a few minutes to make your voice heard. The NEH is counting on members of associations like CCHA to support them at times like these.

Our friends at the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) have a simple way for you to Tell President Trump You Oppose the Elimination of NEH, linked HERE. This only takes a moment, so please help! NHA also has a quick outline of what the proposed budget plan is and what you can do to help further, titled “Help Us Nip Efforts to Defund NEH in the Bud,” and that can be found HERE.

We will continue to send further updates and information as it becomes available. In closing, thank you for your continued and valued support for the humanities, the NEH, and CCHA.

Sincerely,
Your CCHA Friends and Colleagues

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Literary Magazine Competition

Deadline: Monday, May 30th

Does your institution have a literary magazine that you would like to submit to this year’s CCHA Literary Magazine Competition?  If so, please download a copy of the form below and submit yours before the May 30th deadline!  Good luck!

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Support the Humanities: Become a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer

CALL FOR CCHA CAMPUS HUMANITIES LIAISON OFFICERS

The Community College Humanities Association (CCHA) has developed a humanities liaison program aimed at strengthening the humanities and humanities faculty at the nation’s community colleges. Please consider becoming the CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer at your college.  Your involvement in this role would be immensely valuable to the humanities faculty and the humanities program at your college, as well as to CCHA and the humanities generally. You would also receive several benefits.

Duties and Requirements of Being a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer

First, as a spokesperson for CCHA, you are required to be a current individual member – $40 per year for a full-time employee/$15 per year for a part-time employee – which is a pretty good deal. Second, your primary duty will involve being a liaison between CCHA and your campus. Periodically you will receive correspondence from CCHA about opportunities for personal and professional growth in the humanities and you will forward this information to all your humanities faculty and administrators, along with a personal note from you. Third, it is highly recommended that you attend theHumanities Liaison Officer Workshop that takes place at the annual CCHA fall conferences. Lastly, but crucial for promoting CCHA and the humanities, you are asked to offer some kind of spring event at your college. This can be a very informal affair over coffee, or more, whatever fits best with your college. The goal is to inform your humanities faculty and administrators about the opportunities for humanists offered through CCHA (perhaps take them to the CCHA home page or to the blog), and to encourage faculty to become individual members.

Benefits of Being a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer

As the Humanities Liaison Officer for your college you receive a twenty percent reduction in registration fees for all CCHA conferences. And through the CCHA liaison communication system you and your humanities colleagues will be among the first to be informed of available grants and other opportunities for humanists, including early notification of CCHA-sponsored summer workshops and NEH(National Endowment for the Humanities)-funded summer institutes. You are invited to attend the Past and Present Officers and Liaison Officers Breakfast Meetings occurring at all CCHA conferences, which allows you to interact with other past and present leaders in CCHA. And lastly, having all the Liaison Officers attend the Humanities Liaison Officer Workshop at the annual conferences will allow a sharing of ideas and strategies aimed at promoting the humanities, humanities faculty and administrators, and CCHA.

How to Become the CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer at Your College 

The Community College Humanities Association is the only national organization whose sole purpose is to strengthen the humanities and humanities faculty in the nation’s community colleges.  Your efforts as the Humanities Liaison Officer for your college can help further this goal, both locally and nationally.

For further information, or to find out whether your college has a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer contact the National Humanities Liaison Officer Program Coordinator Jeff Clausen by email at jclausen@greenriver.edu.

If your college does not currently have a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer, click on the following form for Download: CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer Appointment Form 

Continue reading Support the Humanities: Become a CCHA Humanities Liaison Officer

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Update & Opportunity to Blog with CCHA!

Fellow friends of CCHA and supporters of the humanities,

I am writing to you to inform you about some updates in addition to offering you an opportunity that will be mutually beneficial!  For starters, we now have a fully functional LinkedIn page, Facebook page, Twitter account, and a blog.  Please see the links to these below and note that we would love you to “like us” and “follow us” if you are willing and able to do so.

Continue reading Update & Opportunity to Blog with CCHA!

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Adams and Foner: The Humanities as the Past, Present, and Future of Public Life

We live in a dynamic world, ever assaulted by our environment, with few places to turn where we can relax, unwind, be at one.  While we have the added double-edged sword of the digital world to add to our list of anxieties (and the irony of this being a digital post is not lost on me), people have always looked for a way to disengage from the world while feeling a strong connection to their internal, humanistic side.  The amazing thing about the humanities is that this field allows us to do this in a solitary environment, such as at home with a book, but we can also do this in a crowded library, theatre, or classroom.  Why is this of interest?  Simply because it means that what we crave to permit us to relax and reinvigorate ourselves is not necessarily time alone; we crave time spent with the humanities.  They are a part of our everyday lives and we find them in our everyday, public spaces.

Continue reading Adams and Foner: The Humanities as the Past, Present, and Future of Public Life

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Reenergized! Reevaluate? Barnette, Nafisi, and the Post-Phoenix Push

There is something special about those first few days after a great conference, and it’s not the jet lag.  It is time to reevaluate.  If you are anything like me, you know that mix of feelings and emotions that surge through your body as you prepare to re-embark on the rest of your semester armed with new strategies to get your students interested, engaged, and involved.  It can feel like the first day of term all over again, but without the nerves or the sad feeling of loss for our vacation time.  If anything, the post-conference surge we feel is that we are now closer to the finish line, and we are going to make these last few weeks count; they will be even more powerful and engaging.

Continue reading Reenergized! Reevaluate? Barnette, Nafisi, and the Post-Phoenix Push