On September 14, 2012, Presidents Donna E. Shalala and Eduardo Padrón (Miami Dade College), who are members of the American Academy Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, hosted a forum on Humanities and Civil Society at the MDC’s Wolfson Campus.
Answering a bipartisan call from members of the United States Senate and House of Representatives, the American Academy created the Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences to respond to the following question: "What are the top ten actions that Congress, state governments, universities, foundations, educators, individual benefactors, and others should take now to maintain national excellence in Humanities and social scientific scholarship and education, and to achieve long-term national goals for our intellectual and economic well-being; for a stronger, more vibrant civil society; and for the success of cultural diplomacy in the 21st century?"
The Commission includes, in addition to Presidents Shalala and Padrón, such members as John Lithgow, George Lucas, Yo-Yo Ma, and Anthony Grafton, Professor of History at Princeton, who will be visiting UM as a Stanford Distinguished Professor in April 2013.
At the event, Presidents Shalala and Padrón heard testimony from 11 panelists, including UM alumna Gloria Estefan, Mitchell Kaplan of Books & Books, Faith Mesnekoff of History Miami, Arva Moore Parks of Coral Gables Museum, Michael Spring of the Miami-Dade County Department of Cultural Affairs, and Mihoko Suzuki, director of UM’s Center for the Humanities.
Estefan stressed the importance of the various teachers who supported her after she emigrated to the US from Cuba. Kaplan called for collaborations and partnerships in the community to promote the humanities.
Suzuki described the activities of the Center for the Humanities and its mission to serve the faculty and students at UM as well as from area universities and colleges, and the general public of South Florida. She called attention to the Center’s active collaboration with Books & Books, the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, and the Florida Humanities Council, and the yearlong series of programs celebrating the humanities on the UM campus, “Taking Flight.”
Suzuki urged Congress to reverse the 60% decline in federal funding for the National Endowment for the Humanities over the past 30 years. In heeding the call of the Commission for specific proposals, she recommended the national support of "Teachers as Scholars," a program in which university faculty would lead seminars for K-12 teachers, who are responsible for transmitting the importance of humanities texts and approaches to the next generation of citizens.