[Smt-talk] Advocating for the humanities

Panayotis Mavromatis panos.mavromatis at nyu.edu
Mon Apr 7 10:01:21 PDT 2014

Dear Dr. Whitcomb,

On Apr 4, 2014, at 2:22 PM, Whitcomb, Benjamin D <whitcomb at uww.edu> wrote:
> (2) There are different ways to fund the humanities, or any program for that matter. For example, different countries fund different programs in many different ways, with different outcomes. Also, in some of the countries with the greatest funding for humanities, there has also been greater regulation of what is and is not acceptable to those in power, resulting in a reduction in intellectual diversity and liberty. Or, with America's history of being a great pioneer in politics, we could consider taking a new direction altogether. Also, does being in the humanities mean that we should automatically favor and seek as much government funding as possible, or are there limits and trade-offs? (But again, does this discussion belong on the SMT list?)

I am afraid the above comments do not accurately reflect the grant allocation process. Whether in the case of NEH, NIH, NSF, or other similar agencies, grant proposals are evaluated and scored by a panel of experts chosen from among our ranks. (I know of many colleagues in my own institution who serve on NSF or NIH review panels.) So grant allocation is not really a matter of “what is and is not acceptable to those in power”—rather, it is another instance of the peer review process, one of the most valuable and democratic aspects of the academic community. I see no reason why we should break this process for the sake of being “pioneers in politics”. All we ask is to be given the opportunity to preserve our scholarly procedures.

Panos Mavromatis

% ===================================================
%  Panayotis Mavromatis
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