This week I wrote about a lot of things, and I’ll cover them below, but I want to focus on the NEH Summer Seminars. I generally see the NEH as unobtainable for me as a scholar (not as a teacher. They actually have good teaching-related programs. I am not talking about them).
As a scholar, I’m not famous enough. I don’t work for a famous institution. I didn’t get my PhD at a fancy enough place. I didn’t get fancy grants as a grad student or junior scholar. In academia, you get tracked, and if you’re not on the fancy track, it’s very hard to move up. Yes, there are exceptions, but we’re a prestige-laden bunch and it’s hard to make these kinds of jumps.
One exception, though, is the summer seminar and institute program. They are designed to bring together scholars from all kinds of levels, from grad students to community colleges to teaching 4-years to branch campuses to the most elite schools in the country. Other programs link college professors and K-12 teachers, transforming teaching practices across America.
Until a few weeks ago, some of these programs were hosted abroad. They had the same costs as any other seminar in terms of stipends and salaries, with at most marginal other costs around the edges. And yet, for “budget reasons,” allegedly, the NEH has cancelled them. They did it without discussion. They did it without warning.
One other data point – right-wing Senator Jeff Sessions lampooned these programs as “vacations” last April. The NEH is claiming that’s just a coincidence.
Other writing this week: