The Wake Forest University Humanities Institute strongly opposes efforts to defund the National Endowment for the Humanities.
In its mission statement, the NEH declares that “democracy demands wisdom,” and explains that the “NEH serves and strengthens our republic by promoting excellence in the humanities and conveying the lessons of history to all Americans.”
At Wake Forest, we know this to be true. The Humanities Institute was founded in 2010, with generous support from the NEH Challenge Grant program. The Challenge Grant anchored our endowment and enabled the Institute to raise substantial matching donor funds. Since 2010, the support of the NEH has enabled the Humanities Institute to offer programming and scholarly support to our university faculty, students, and the broader Piedmont community. With leveraged support and co-sponsorships, the Humanities Institute helped to bring the Southeastern Renaissance Conference to Winston Salem, has sustained an initiative exploring narrative practices in Medicine and healing, and helped host national conferences on Religious Pluralism, Aging, Environmental Sustainability, and Human Rights. With NEH funding, the institute has facilitated relationships between faculty and area community partners. These collaborations have led to the development of public projects which explore and represent the Yadkin river, the photographic and narrative autobiographies of local developmentally disabled residents, local African American religious histories, and the past and future of race in America.
Our NEH-funded faculty have initiated projects which explore Christian communities in Muslim countries, the boundaries of Religion and Science, and mass incarceration.
Over the past two years, our faculty and students have exemplified the NEH mission by convening “Humanities For Our Future,” a working group of area educators which explores the future of humanities education. The principles of the NEH are also embodied in the many courses created through our Humanities Matters programming, which supports faculty and students who connect their courses to topical issues and problems in the wider world.
The NEH has been vital for connecting Wake Forest University faculty and students with our North Carolina Communities, and we urge every one of our leaders and all of our neighbors to support the continued funding of this exceptional national resource.