The Heart of the Matter: Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences Releases Report to Congress

"The Heart of the Matter" Report Released by Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

The Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences has released The Heart of the Matter. This report, requested in 2011 by Senators Lamar Alexander (R-Tennessee) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia) and Representatives Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) and David Price (D-North Carolina), seeks to advance a dialog on the importance of the humanities and social sciences to the future of our nation.

The Heart of the Matter identifies three goals and thirteen broad recommendations for advancing the humanities and social sciences in America:

Educate Americans in the knowledge, skills, and understanding the will need to thrive in a twenty-first-century democracy

--Support literacy as the foundation for all learning

--Invest in the preparation of citizens

--Increase access to online resources, including teaching materials

--Engage the public

Foster a society that is innovative, competitive, and strong

--Increase investment in research and discovery

--Communicate the importance of research to the public

--Create cohesive curricula to ensure basic competencies

--Strengthen support for teachers

--Encourage all disciplines to address Grand Challenges

Equip the nation for leadership in an interconnected world

--Promote language learning

--Expand education in international affairs and transnational studies

--Support study abroad and international exchange programs

--Develop a “Culture Corps”

The commission was chaired by Richard H. Brodhead, president of Duke University and John W. Row, retired Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Exelon Corporation. The commission was made up of 51 members from the worlds of academia, business, government, the arts, and the media.

“The humanities and social sciences help us understand where we’ve come from and who we are as a people, and that understanding points us toward the endeavors we must undertake to help every person reach their full potential,” said Representative Price. “Studies in these areas are critically important to a well-rounded education and the future of our country. This report comes at a crucial moment, and I hope it will help raise the profile of the humanities, provide a better understanding of their value, and spur a national conversation about how the humanities and social sciences keep our nation strong and competitive.”

“Today’s leaders in business, government, the military and diplomacy must be able to analyze, interpret, communicate, and understand other cultures,” said President Brodhead. “This report will remind Americans that a broad-based and balanced education, integrating the sciences, the humanities, and the social sciences, is the best way to equip our citizens to approach the complex problems of our rapidly changing world.”

A short companion film, The Heart of the Matter, produced by Emmy® Award-winning filmmakers Ewers Brothers Productions was also released this week. Appearing in the film are producer, screenwriter, and director George Lucas, actor John Lithgow, cellist Yo-Yo Ma, and documentary filmmaker Ken Burns.

In addtion to this report and film, state humanities councils will produce programing aimed at generating dialogue around the report.

Read the full report.

Read a Q&A with Richard Brodhead on the process of preparing the report.

Read all press associated with the release of the report.