Humanities for Policy-And a Policy for the Humanities: Scientists Have Been Asked to Demonstrate Their Value to Policymakers; Now Humanists Must Show What They Have to Offer

By Frodeman, Robert; Mitcham, Carl et al. | Issues in Science and Technology, Fall 2003 | Go to article overview

Humanities for Policy-And a Policy for the Humanities: Scientists Have Been Asked to Demonstrate Their Value to Policymakers; Now Humanists Must Show What They Have to Offer


Frodeman, Robert, Mitcham, Carl, Pielke, Roger, Jr., Issues in Science and Technology


Since World War II, policymakers have increasingly viewed investments in knowledge as central to achieving societal goals--unless that knowledge is in the humanities. In 2003, less than 1 percent of the $100-billion investment of public resources in knowledge is being devoted to the fields making up the humanities. If the federal budget is an accurate reflection of priorities, then policymakers view the humanities as having at best a marginal role in meeting the challenges facing our nation.

By contrast, many policymakers believe, in President Bush's words, that "science and technology are critically important to keeping our nation's economy competitive and for addressing challenges we face in health care, defense, energy production and use, and the environment." This explains the overall trend in funding: Whereas federal appropriations for the National Institutes of Health (NIH) have doubled over the past six years, with a similar doubling now planned for the National Science Foundation (NSF), funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) and the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) have in real terms been cut by almost half since 1994. According to James Herbert of the NEH, the ratio of NSF to NEH funding has during the past two decades gone from 5:1 in 1979 to 33:1 in 1997.

This apparent consensus concerning the humanities (a tacit consensus, for few have raised the question of whether the humanities can contribute to policy in areas such as health care, defense, or the environment) is contrary to the fundamental purposes for which Congress created the NEH and NEA in 1965. The founding legislation for these agencies notes that "an advanced civilization must not limit its efforts to science and technology alone, but must give full value and support to the other great branches of scholarly and cultural activity in order to achieve a better understanding of the past, a better analysis of the present, and a better view of the future." Remarkably, little sustained effort has been given to examining the claim that the humanities can make significant contributions to policy outcomes.

We do find modest countertrends. Several areas of policy, such as the regulation of biotechnology, are notable for the role played by the humanities in identifying alternative courses of action and their consequences. The Human Genome Project has for more than a decade devoted between 3 and 5 percent of its funding to a research program on the ethical, legal, and social implications of its work. And in 2001, President Bush created a Council on Bioethics to "articulate fully the complex and often competing moral positions on any given issue" related to topics such as embryo and stem cell research, assisted reproduction, cloning, and end-of-life issues. Chairman Leon Kass began the council's work by reflecting on a work of literature, Nathaniel Hawthorne's "The Birthmark," which explores the unintended consequences of aspirations to physical perfection.

The potential currently seen for the humanities to contribute to policy development in biotechnology is indicative of their broader potential to contribute to the development of useful knowledge in areas such as nanotechnology, homeland security, or any area where science and technology intersect with broader societal interests. We suggest that humanists interested in improving the connection of their fields with the needs of policymakers--in contrast to those who support the humanities for their intrinsic value alone--can learn from the experiences of science in the political process over the past century, as well as from those who have studied the interconnections of science and policy. These lessons indicate a need for change within the humanities, via a systematic focus on "humanities policy." We recommend beginning with a "humanities for policy" that will lead to a new "policy for the humanities."

Science policy trajectory

A hundred years ago science, like the humanities today, was thought to be largely irrelevant to practical affairs, at least in terms of the public resources devoted to science. …

The rest of this article is only available to active members of Questia

Sign up now for a free, 1-day trial and receive full access to:

  • Questia's entire collection
  • Automatic bibliography creation
  • More helpful research tools like notes, citations, and highlights
  • Ad-free environment

Already a member? Log in now.

Notes for this article

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items

Items saved from this article

This article has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this article

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this article

Cited article

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited article

Humanities for Policy-And a Policy for the Humanities: Scientists Have Been Asked to Demonstrate Their Value to Policymakers; Now Humanists Must Show What They Have to Offer
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this article

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.