Autumn 2021: Fall to It
Given the ongoing uncertainty with both the pandemic federal spending priorities, this fall is an important time for champions of the arts, humanities, mathematics, natural sciences, and social sciences. Congressional attention is focused on the FY2022 budget appropriations process. If you support federal funding for the arts, humanities, and sciences, this summer is a critical time to contact your members of Congress. Those who champion the arts and sciences must show the timeliness, importance, and imperativeness of the arts, humanities, mathematics, and sciences on campuses and in communities.
For faculty on campus, Phi Beta Kappa recently compiled departmental advocacy guides from a range of disciplines facing cuts on many campuses.
Liberal arts and sciences graduates can also play crucial advocacy roles as state legislatures consider legislation that will undercut academic freedom and/ or enact cuts to higher education funding.
What types of arts and sciences asks are appropriate for legislators and members of Congress?
- Encourage your senators to support funding for nation’s cultural endowments at the level set by the House Interior Appropriations Subcommittee. Its FY 22 appropriations bill provides $201 million each for the National Endowment for the Humanities and the National Endowment for the Arts. This reflects an increase of $33.5 million for each agency. The nation’s creative economy equals 4.5 percent of gross domestic product, contributing more to the national economy than the construction, transportation, travel, tourism, mining, utilities, and agriculture industries. Not only is the cultural sector crucial for economic recovery, but it also strengthens communities and builds civic ties.
- Ask policymakers to make federal investments in science a national priority and encourage the use of evidence-based policymaking. The U.S. has now fallen to tenth place among Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development nations in research investment as a fraction of GDP. Let’s change that equation.
- Help the Society support the #DoublePell campaign. The Pell Grant is a proven program that opens the door to educational opportunities for low- and moderate- income students. Unlike a loan, it does not need to be repaid except under certain circumstances. The current maximum amount is $6495. Our goal is for Congress to double it to ensure that high-quality higher education is affordable for more students. Take action here.
- Help prevent cuts to higher education spending. Policymakers will face many difficult choices in the next legislative session. State investments in higher education help students and their families now, but also benefit communities with the public value of arts and sciences research and ensure long-term competitiveness. With broad cuts to higher education, the liberal arts and sciences often sustain disproportionate reductions. You do not have to be an alum to help Phi Beta Kappa’s public colleges and universities in your state. Government relations teams welcome constituent support from non-alumni and can provide data, asks, and student stories.
- Watch for potential bills that target the liberal arts and sciences and academic freedom in your state, and learn how to respond productively.
If you are not interested in talking with policymakers, you can still help.
- If you donate to your alma mater, take a few extra minutes to let your college or university know why you support the arts and sciences on campus in the comments box as you complete your donation.
- If you are an employer, encourage your human resources staff to avoid narrow pre-professional educational requirements when filling positions that require interdisciplinary perspectives and executive function skills.
Now, it’s time to get to work.