in Higher Education
By Ron Southwick
July 7, 1999
The Trenton Times, 1999
All rights reserved.
Reprinted with permission.
PRINCETON, NJ-- As
Director of the Princeton University Center for Arts and Cultural
Policy Studies, Stanley Katz wants his center to do what the federal
government doesnít do.
said, there is no national effort going on to study the teaching
of the humanities Ė history, English, foreign languages Ė in higher
And, he said, no
agency collects data detailing how National Endowment for the
Humanities grants are being used, how many women and minorities
enter the field or how many grant recipients produce books.
The Princeton center
was founded five years ago but only recently secured the grant
money to fund serious studies. But Katz, a professor at Princeton,
would like a little help from the NEH, the federal research arm
that funds such studies.
"They just donít
think itís important," Katz laments.
The NEH provides
funding for everything from museums and libraries to authors and
filmmakers. The agency also offers one-year grants to scholars
for research and writing.
But unlike other
funding agencies such as the National Science Foundation or the
National Endowment for the Arts, the NEH has largely stopped compiling
studies of how its money is used. The NEH, which wants $152 million
from Congress this year, says it wants to do such studies but
must also consider what is more important: funding a museum or
and professorships are worthy goals, Katz says. But Katz says
without any real collection of data, it is impossible to truly
decide how to best spend money on humanities.
a company saying it will stop investing in research and development
because it has to produce so many widgets," Katz said. "What
happens when people stop buying widgets?"
Katz served as president
of the American Council of Learned Societies, the nationís chief
humanities organization, for 15 years. He is well known in the
humanities community for criticizing the NEHís lack of policy
studies. He sees his center as taking steps to pursue research
that isn't being done.
As its name suggests,
Princetonís Center for Arts and Cultural Policy Studies supports
both humanities and the arts. Most funding for the Princeton center
comes from two private sources: the Pew Charitable Trusts of Philadelphia
and the Andrew Mellon Foundation in New York.
The Princeton center
is designed to train graduate students in arts and cultural policy
analysis. The center supports 15 graduate students doing research
on such topics as the relation of philanthropy and the arts and
the impact of the Internet on arts and culture. The center also
supports faculty members who want to develop courses on cultural
In addition, the
center is working on developing a central databank of resources
for studying arts and cultural policy. The Princeton center completed
a review of available data sources on arts organizations for the
National Endowment for the Arts.
But Katz said more
studies need to be devoted to the humanities. And he said the
NEH must fund such studies.
The NEH has suffered
huge funding cuts in recent years, making such data collection
difficult. The agency gets 36 percent less money than it did in
1995. Republicans in Congress that year proposed eliminating the
agency altogether but that idea was scrapped.
At its peak in 1995,
the NEH had received $172 million. Last year, the agencyís budget
was $110.7 million. Programs supporting libraries, museums and
grants to support scholars were cut.
of the areas of the endowment were affected," said Jeff Thomas,
the NEHís director of strategic planning. "Our ability to
fund basic research in the humanities has been curtailed."
At its peak in the
1990s, the NEH spent more than $700,000 on policy studies, according
to the agency's statistics. Today, that number has fallen to $50,000.
"With a substantial
budget cutback, it cut back the amount we have been able to fund
for data collection," said Thomas.
The NEH is reviewing
a report by James Herbert, the NEHís director of research and
education programs, that advocates spending more effort on collecting
data on humanities studies.
Thomas said the National
Science Foundation helps the agency produce studies on how many
new graduates get degrees in the humanities. And the U.S. Department
of Education does some studies to collect the numbers of full-time
faculty in the humanities. But the government has stopped doing
many studies of what those faculty are doing.
For nearly 20 years,
the NEH compiled comprehensive surveys of all faculty teaching
in the humanities to see what they were teaching and what research
they were doing. The studies, which began in 1977, stopped in
Katz can cite one
prime example of the NEHís decline in support. He sought funding
to support a joint study with the University of Maryland on the
impact of the Internet on culture.
The Princeton center
received the funding - from the National Science Foundation. Since
the center is trying to compile statistics to see who uses the
Internet to find information on arts and literature, the NSF gave
money to accumulate the data. The NSF is anxious to fund statistical
surveys, Katz explained.
NEH officials point
to the work they are doing to support existing programs while
expanding services. The NEH has given grants to such projects
as filmmaker Ken Burnsí documentaries "The Civil War"
and "Baseball" widely seen on public television.
Since 1995, the NEH
has given $14.2 million in grants to programs based in New Jersey.
The agency has recently begun a partnership with the Geraldine
R. Dodge Foundation to promote the teaching of the humanities
in public schools.
The Dodge Foundation
has given $80,000 to expand curriculum and develop summer seminars
for teaching in the humanities.
this will be a model for the rest of the nation," said Roberta
Heine, director of public affairs for the NEH.
Katz said funding
on a national and local level to support the humanities is more
difficult. While he said he is generally happy with Princeton
Universityís support of humanities studies, the faculty in the
humanities donít get the funding that professors in the sciences
Unlike biology or
engineering professors who can secure grants and funding for projects
that could yield cutting-edge inventions Ė and substantial profits
Ė the benefits of supporting studies in history and foreign languages
arenít as easy to quantify.
However, Katz said
that doesnít make the study of the humanities any less important.
He wants the Princeton center to promote studies of the humanities
while also showing how such studies affect people in their everyday
"We donít make
discoveries of DNA," Katz said. "We make discoveries
of the human soul."