Humanities Information

Northeastern has a comprehensive College of Social Science and Humanities, which, along with fields of study such as the sciences and engineering conducts valuable research. "Humanities" is a broad term used to describe areas of study including, but not limited to, language, literature, history, philosophy, political science, and religion.  Northeastern understands the relevance of research in these areas to advance our mission to resolve cultural challenges, and therefore, there are close to half a dozen research and resource centers on campus. These centers and faculty, like other areas of research, rely on external grant funding to continue working. One such center is Northeastern's Humanities Center, which is dedicated to asking relevant questions pertaining to the filed of study and further investigating global challenges. There are two federal agencies in particular that provide significant funding in this area, The National Endowment for the Humanities and The National Endowment for the Arts.

What are the Humanities?

Unknown to some, the humanities play a central role in the mission of research universities. According to the 1965 National Foundation on the Arts and the Humanities Act, "the term ‘humanities' includes, but is not limited to, the study of the following: language, both modern and classical; linguistics; literature; history; philosophy; archaeology; comparative religion; ethics; the history, criticism and theory of the arts..." Humanities, like the sciences and other fields of study, conduct noteworthy research that is innovative and focused on bettering our national and global community.  At Northeastern, the humanities assist in the use-inspired approach to research that seeks to have a real world impact.

The "National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities"

Lyndon B. Johnson gives his wife a kiss after signing the legislation

The National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities was created to encourage national progress and scholarship in the humanities and the arts. President Lyndon B. Johnson signed the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities Act on September 29, 1965. This particular piece of legislation was landmark because it not only declared the humanities a Federal concern, but it categorized the humanities as having the same research necessity and relevance as science or engineering:

"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."

Humanities, like sciences, are key fields of study to unlock future discoveries and advance our cultural and global challenges. In addition to recognizing the importance of the humanities, the Act established the need for funding:

"it is necessary and appropriate for the Federal Government to complement, assist, and add to programs for the advancement of the humanities and the arts by local, State, regional, and private agencies and their organizations."

After listing eleven declarations, the act concludes by asserting that these are the reasons Congress needs to establish the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities. 

Pictured above: President Lyndon B. Johnson gives his wife, Lady Bird, a kiss after he signs the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities of 1965.

To see the Act in full text, click here.

National Endowment for the Humanities

Judith Tick was awarded a fellowship from the NEH

Similarly to other areas of research, such as the sciences or engineering, there are specific federal agencies dedicated to provide the necessary funding to the appropriate institutions. The National Endowment for the Humanities, or NEH, is the independent grant-making federal agency dedicated to supporting research, education, preservation, and public programs in the humanities. Created in 1965, the NEH is one of the largest funders of humanities programs in the United States. 

Pictured to the left: Judith Tick, Matthews Distinguished Professor of Music at Northeastern University, was awarded a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities in January 2011 to write a biography of legendary jazz vocalist Ella Fitzgerald. 

The NEH approves grants for the purposes of:
strengthening teaching and learning in the humanities in schools and colleges across the nation;
facilitating research and original scholarship;
providing opportunities for lifelong learning;
preserving and provide access to cultural and educational resources;
strengthening the institutional base of the humanities

National Endowment for the Arts

Similar to the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) was established in 1965 by Congress and is the nation's largest annual funder of the arts. NEA's mission is to "support excellence in the arts, both new and established; bring the arts to all Americans; and provide leadership in arts education." With a budget of $167.5 million for the fiscal year of 2010, the NEA is able to provide research grants in the arts for many valuable fields of study and their inquiries.

Humanities Center at Northeastern

The Northeastern University Humanities Center was founded in 2008 to cultivate a dialogue among politicians and writers, philosophers and scientists, historians and health care providers, journalists and entrepreneurs, artists and lawyers, researchers and practitioners, and others. In bringing together experts from various disciplines, the mission is to collaborate on and investigate critical questions. This is accomplishes largely through various programs and events the centers organizes and hosts.

Other Research Centers at Northeastern

Northeastern is home to five research and resource centers in the College of Social Science and Humanities:

The Brudnick Center for the Study of Violence and Conflict,

The Center for Labor Market Studies,

The Community-Based Research Initiative,

The Humanities Center,

The Kitty & Michael Dukakis Center for Urban & Regional Policy