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Loyola to host 50th anniversary celebration for National Endowment for the Humanities

| By Nick Alexopulos
Loyola University Maryland democracy and the humanities

Loyola University Maryland will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) with a two-day symposium Sept. 25-26, 2015, featuring lectures and presentations by renowned scholars from across the country. 

The event, Democracy and the Humanities, is part of an ongoing national conversation on the importance of the humanities in education and in America. Speakers and breakout session panelists will explore why the humanities were relevant when NEH was created in 1965 and why the humanities continue to be relevant, if not more so, today.

“At Loyola, the humanities play an essential role in our preparation of students to be leaders capable of the critical thinking and deep discernment required in a world faced with increasingly complex sociopolitical issues,” said Paul Lukacs, Ph.D., associate professor of English. 

Lukacs is organizing the symposium with support from Loyola’s Center for the Humanities, Messina, and the office of academic affairs. He approached NEH about hosting an anniversary event at Loyola and recommended the Democracy in the Humanities theme. 

“We’re thrilled to join with Loyola in celebrating NEH’s 50-year legacy of promoting excellence in the humanities,” said NEH Chairman William Adams, Ph.D. “The subject of this symposium could not be more relevant to the work of the National Endowment for the Humanities, which was founded with the conviction—outlined in our enabling legislation—that ‘democracy demands wisdom.’ We at NEH are extremely proud of our history of helping create the cultural capital that undergirds this country’s democracy. And we welcome opportunities such as this to discuss the ways in which the humanities can help us address some of the most pressing issues of our time.” 

Adams and Duke University President Richard Brodhead, Ph.D., are among the symposium’s featured speakers, and individual session discussions will be led by scholars from public and private colleges and universities and representatives from national higher education organizations. Sessions will offer a comprehensive analysis of how the humanities interact with technology, globalization, political discourse, and a diverse range of other contemporary topics.

“The contributions and value of humanities disciplines extend far beyond Loyola,” said Lukacs. “The humanities answer questions that are critically important to a functioning democracy, to a society where citizens make judgments that result in policy. What do citizens need to know to ensure those policies are just and effective? What skills should those citizens have? What knowledge should they possess?”

There are more than a dozen disciplines in the humanities, including history, philosophy, ethics, theology, and literature. Many are an integral part of Loyola’s liberal arts core.

NEH is an independent federal agency and one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States, making more than $100 million in grants and awards each year. NEH grants help strengthen teaching and learning in schools and colleges, preserve and provide access to cultural and educational resources, facilitate scholarship and research, and create and advance opportunities for lifelong learning. Loyola has received substantial NEH grants for its honors program, Center for the Humanities, and, most recently, Messina.

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