Carnegie Mellon University
March 19, 2015

NEH Chair William Adams To Share Fresh Perspectives on the Humanities

By Shilo Rea / 412-268-6094 /

William AdamsWilliam Adams, the chairman of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), believes that government support for the public humanities is critical to our national welfare.

In the last five years, the NEH has granted more than $22 million to support humanities programs, research and collections in Pennsylvania. As the agency gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015-2016, Adams believes the NEH can do more to address major challenges in society.

Adams hopes to influence the work of the NEH through grant initiatives such as The Common Good: Humanities in the Public Square, Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War and the Public Scholar Program. He will share his fresh perspective on the humanities at Carnegie Mellon University at 10:30 a.m., Friday, March 27 in the Cohon University Center’s Rangos 1 Ballroom.

Adams will be in Pittsburgh to help open the first Pittsburgh Humanities Festival, co-sponsored by CMU's Humanities Center and the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust. On Thursday, March 26, he will introduce acclaimed writer Azar Nafisi, author of “Reading Lolita in Tehran,” to open the festival at Pittsburgh's Byham Theater.

The festival is the brainchild of CMU English Professor David Shumway. “The Humanities Festival is an initiative that falls in line with Dr. Adams vision for the humanities as promoting the common good, which his talk at CMU will explore. The NEH is by far the largest single source of support for the humanities in the United States.”

Over the past decade, CMU and the Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences have strengthened the university’s standing in the humanities. Faculty and students focus on teaching and learning as well as developing useful, practical skills. Often, they cross disciplines to solve real-world problems.

For example, philosophers are working to improve medical ethics practices and food marketing tactics geared toward children; historians are developing policy recommendations for forensic DNA profiling and drug policy; and, an English professor’s social networking tool to improve education is now being used by tens of thousands of students all over the world.

Adams lecture is free and open to the public. It is sponsored by CMU’s Humanities Center and Center for International Relations and Politics as well as the Greater Pittsburgh Arts Council and Pennsylvania Humanities Council.

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As the National Endowment for the Humanities gears up to celebrate its 50th anniversary in 2015-2016, William Adams (pictured above) believes the agency can do more to address major challenges in society. He will share his thoughts at Carnegie Mellon on Friday, March 27.