As I walk to work in the morning, the first thing I see as I head toward the AHA office is the US Capitol, which not only symbolizes a public sector gone awry but also shares the honor of host for the current orgy of disregard for the common good. This observation isn’t partisan, at least not in the current moment: both Republican and Democratic policy makers from previous administrations have noted that “Washington” is not operating as it should. Nor, even, as it usually has.
Last week, committees in the House of Representatives voted on recommendations for Fiscal Year 2018 budget allocations. Historical works takes place in, or is funded by, a wide variety of federal agencies; the National Coalition for History (NCH) tries to keep track of as many of these as possible. The National Humanities Alliance (NHA) and Consortium of Social Science Associations (COSSA) complement this work with their focus on agencies with broader focus in the humanities and social sciences, but of central interest to historians.
In late August the dean of students at the University of Chicago, John Ellison, stirred up a hornets’ nest with a letter to incoming students that specifically denounced “so-called ‘trigger warnings’” and “intellectual ‘safe spaces’” as antithetical to the university’s commitment to freedom of expression. The letter followed up on issues addressed in the university’s widely praised 2015 report on freedom of expression. Its tone, however, is very different from that report, and many observers argue that so is its perspective.
AHA Teaching Division Councilor Trinidad Gonzales (South Texas Coll.) and AHA member Emilio Zamora (Univ. of Texas, Austin) are part of a committee that has released a report citing numerous factual inaccuracies and generally poor historical work in a textbook proposed to meet Texas’s Mexican American Studies standard in high schools.
Today’s New York Times reports that Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. of Charleston, South Carolina, has declared that our task is “to help get evil thoughts out of the minds” of Americans.
Few readers of this blog need to be convinced of the value of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH).
On December 18 Inside Higher Ed (IHE) ran a story on the recent statement by the Organization of American Historians (OAH), which has joined the American Historical Association in recommending that universities give doctoral students the ability to opt out of online distribution of their dissertation for a reasonable period of time while they prepare their scholarship for print publication.
Readers of the October 27 issue of the New York Times Book Review might have seen the AHA referenced in a colorful story about Arthur Schlesinger Jr. and Nigel Hamilton at an annual meeting.