The Foundation's Role in Support of the Humanities
1995 Annual Report
From its beginnings, the Foundation has provided support for the humanities, by which we have meant not only certain fields of study--such as history, literature, and philosophy--but also the core institutions in which these fields usually find natural homes--independent research libraries, research centers, historical societies, and art museums, as well as colleges and universities. Because the Foundation has broad interests in these fields, it operates more than one program of grant support for them. Neither a precise definition of the humanities nor a demarcation of their boundaries has been a major concern.
Rather, the several programs that provide support for advanced research and improved teaching in the humanities are connected by several themes (some of which also characterize much of the Foundation's work beyond the humanities).
The Foundation's emphasis is on leading institutions.
The Foundation's programs are based on research about the characteristics of the institutions that the programs are intended to serve, and frequently lead to further research.
We are concerned with nurturing talent, encouraging high levels of intellectual achievement, and strengthening advanced training.
We expect the most important results of grants to be visible primarily over the long-term.
We hope that the Foundation's grants will lead to improvements in institutions that are cost-effective and, therefore, sustainable.
Most of the Foundation's activities in the humanities are housed within its Higher Education and Scholarship program, but art conservation training programs and grants for research and publication in art history are more likely to be found within the Foundation's Culture and the Arts program. And a program of residential fellowships for East European humanists at centers for advanced study located in Western Europe has been funded since 1991 through the Foundation's Public Affairs program in the form of grants to the Council of American Overseas Research Centers. Still another international aspect of the humanities is being addressed through a 1995 Public Affairs grant for the training of faculty members who teach the humanities at universities throughout Africa.
The Foundation's focus on leading institutions of research and training has meant that we have been less concerned with the "public" humanities, with introducing the humanities into untraditional settings, with increasing the number of students exposed to the humanities at elementary and secondary levels or, for that matter, in most undergraduate institutions. These worthy purposes, which have been embraced by other funders, have never been major objectives of this Foundation. Rather, our focus on the long-term health of the humanities and on strengthening the institutions where they are pursued at advanced levels has led the Foundation only occasionally to support projects of brief duration. More frequently, the Foundation has emphasized longer term projects and programs which help universities and other core institutions strengthen their capacities for high quality research and teaching.
We estimate, based on statistics compiled by The Foundation Center, that the total amount of all private foundation support for the humanities in the early 1990s was approximately $50 million per year. In a typical recent year, the Foundation appropriated approximately $25-30 million in grants for the humanities. (In 1995, not a typical year, the Foundation's grantmaking for the humanities totaled $45 million.) The Foundation is the largest single supporter of the humanities among private foundations, usually providing about half the total.
Although the Foundation is the largest source of support among foundations, its grants remain tiny in comparison with the expenditures of educational, scholarly, and cultural institutions themselves. Most support for the humanities in colleges and universities, not surprisingly, is in the form of faculty salaries, graduate student support, and funds for libraries, with lesser amounts expended on student and faculty research, curricular development, public lectures, and exhibitions. The Foundation's efforts, by contrast, are focused on specific purposes that we believe can be achieved by levels of grantmaking that are within our means, and are likely to lead to improvements for the long-term. A review of some of the Foundation's recent activities may help readers to understand better what we have tried to achieve.
Universities and Advanced Training
Since 1988 the Foundation has conceived and conducted several research projects which have served both to identify academic needs and to assist in the design of programs that will address them. This approach has been as evident in the case of the humanities as in other areas of the Foundation's activities. For example, the research conducted by William G. Bowen and Neil L. Rudenstine and reported in the 1992 publication, In Pursuit of the PhD, also informed the basic design of the Foundation's Graduate Education Institutional Grants program. This program includes 49 departments of the humanities and related social sciences at ten universities, and has made it possible for universities to institute changes in the structure of their graduate programs and in the allocation of financial aid. Our aims are to improve graduate training, shorten the time it takes students to complete their PhDs, and also to raise the retention rate in these leading PhD programs. Now expending more than $6.6 million per year, approximately 90 percent of the funds support graduate students in the humanities. The results of this process are being closely monitored, and a database on the progress of graduate students in the program is maintained at the University of Michigan. Harriet Zuckerman has the main responsibility for the program.
In addition to the Graduate Education Institutional Grants program, the Foundation has, since 1980, provided funds for a program of predoctoral humanities fellowships, administered by the Woodrow Wilson National Fellowship Foundation (under the leadership first of Robert F. Goheen and now Alvin Kernan). At one time, these fellowships provided students with three years of support, but since the advent of the Institutional Grants program, the awards have been limited to entry-level support. The Foundation's appropriation for Mellon Fellowships in 1995 was $4.2 million.
Mr. Kernan has also guided a program of Dissertation Seminars since its inception in 1992. Twenty-five grants for seminars in either history or literature have been approved. The seminars address problems that students in these fields frequently encounter when they begin to write dissertations. Under the direction of a senior member of the faculty who is regarded as an excellent teacher of graduate students, is a highly productive scholar, and is sensitive to the methodological and epistemological issues that often prove to be major stumbling blocks at this stage in graduate education, each Dissertation Seminar brings together 10-25 students to consider the broader underpinnings of their field. The faculty members who lead the seminars, Mr. Kernan reports, have said that student participants do seem better able to refine dissertation topics, resolve methodological and theoretical issues, and begin work on their dissertations. For example, Michael S. Roth's 1994 seminar for history students at the Claremont Graduate School and at nearby University of California campuses examined the works of contemporary theorists for the challenges they pose for historians' traditional concerns with judgments of truth and falsehood, and for the concept of objectivity.
The Sawyer Seminars are another highly focused program the Foundation has undertaken to strengthen the humanities in universities. In the 1993 annual report (pdf), Mr. Bowen reported on our recent thinking about area studies and the reasons why it seems less likely than it once did that area studies will continue to be the principal framework for many kinds of training and research. One result of that inquiry was the announcement of a series of seminars, named in honor of John E. Sawyer, former President of the Foundation, which are intended to provide opportunities for the comparative study of the historical and cultural origins of contemporary social, political, and economic developments. These seminars engage university faculty and advanced graduate students in research on topics that transcend regions and time periods and which also allow such work to proceed outside permanent organizational forms of universities which might pose ongoing financial burdens. Support for the seminars is allocated competitively. Ms. Zuckerman is in charge of this program, and the 1994 annual report includes descriptions of some of the first 20 seminars.
The Foundation has also been committed to increasing the numbers of minority undergraduates who choose to pursue academic careers. Through the Mellon Minority Undergraduate Fellowship (MMUF) program, promising undergraduates are provided with a combination of professional guidance and financial support during the later years of undergraduate study and through their transition into graduate school. Because the small number of minority PhDs on the faculties of American colleges and universities is not uniquely a problem in the humanities, the MMUF program includes a range of fields. Nonetheless, three-quarters of the graduate students participating in the program are in the process of preparing themselves to become professors in disciplines of the humanities. Jacqueline Looney is the staff member at the Foundation responsible for this program.
In passing, I should note that the Foundation's Liberal Arts Colleges program focuses on strengthening the relatively small number of undergraduate institutions in which the humanities are prominent--in some cases even dominant--in both the curriculum and in the composition of the faculty. In 1995, approximately $6 million of the Foundation's $9 million in grants to liberal arts colleges were for purposes connected with the humanities. Alice F. Emerson and Elizabeth A. Duffy are in charge of the program, and they expect to provide a full report on its activities in the 1997 annual report.
On most college and university campuses, the heart of the humanities is the library. Because most of the leading research libraries in the humanities are constituent units of the largest research universities, it would be well beyond the means of the Foundation to attempt to provide grants on a meaningful scale even to a small fraction of such institutions, let alone others. Our efforts to assist the major university libraries therefore have not focused on core support, but rather on helping to find solutions to problems that are widely shared and on facilitating especially those solutions that depend on cooperative approaches.
In this arena, too, research has helped define our approach. The Foundation's 1992 study, University Libraries and Scholarly Communication, documented the rising costs of library operations and suggested possible remedies, primarily through the use of technology. When, for example, in 1995 the Commission on Preservation and Access received its most recent grant for general support from the Foundation, the Commission emphasized activities it hoped to undertake on the digitization of library collections. The Foundation has provided general support to the Commission since its early days, but its twin--and somewhat conflicting--earlier goals of preserving research collections (often through microfilming) and making them more readily accessible to users, have only recently been fully reconciled by an emerging emphasis on economically sustainable uses of digital technology. As the prime organizer of the National Digital Library Federation, the Commission is coordinating the digitization efforts of 15 of the largest US repositories of scholarly materials in the humanities. By minimizing duplication in acquisitions of little-used materials--and by anticipating changes in technology--it is becoming more likely that the record of human activity contained in tens of millions of published books and journals, as well as in other forms, will survive well into the future.
Another instance of the Foundation's efforts to address problems faced by many libraries is the 1995 grant to the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) for a study of interlibrary loan practices. Building on an earlier study by the Research Libraries Group, which suggested that the costs of interlibrary loans were soaring (averaging $30.00 in 1992) at the same time that they were being used more often as alternatives to purchasing, the current ARL study expects to identify ways that interlibrary loan practices can be made more cost-effective. With sharply reduced budgets for the acquisition of humanities monographs at many libraries, finding an affordable approach to interlibrary loan, or some other means of sharing materials, has become a very high priority.
Understanding the costs of providing access to library resources in the humanities is a continuing concern of the Foundation's. The high costs of storage and maintenance of little-used, back issues of scholarly journals, for example, led the Foundation to make several grants in 1994 and 1995 for the Journal Storage Project; the most recent of these provides initial working capital for JSTOR, which has just been incorporated as an independent organization. (See the separate section of the annual report about JSTOR, by William G. Bowen and Kevin Guthrie.) The Foundation also made a grant in 1995 to the Council on Library Resources to support a program of small research grants on the economics of information.
The case for cooperative collection development among the leading research libraries has been bolstered, to a considerable degree, by the fact that scholarship in the humanities has become increasingly international. The Foundation has supported selective efforts to improve access to foreign library holdings, but only in a few specific subject areas of particular interest to the Foundation. For example, grants to Villa I Tatti in 1993 and 1995 have supported the establishment and development of a consortium of libraries in Florence, Italy. At present, the libraries of the Uffizi Gallery, the Dutch Art Historical Institute, the Roberto Longhi Foundation, and I Tatti's own Biblioteca Berenson have contributed their bibliographic records to an electronic catalogue that is accessible at institutions throughout Florence and also through Harvard University's HOLLIS system. The number of consortium libraries in Florence will grow to ten within the next two years, and the unified online catalogue of all ten collections will be linked with another electronic catalogue now being developed by a consortium of specialized libraries in Rome. The combined efforts will make a significant difference in the ability of scholars of the Italian Renaissance and related fields to pursue their research subjects.
Independent Research Libraries and Historical Societies
Symbiotic relations between research and grantmaking can be found also in the Foundation's work with independent research libraries and historical societies. Grants to these institutions support the humanities to the extent that these remarkable repositories are largely or wholly defined by their rich collections of rare books, manuscripts, maps, and other research materials--collections that are used extensively by scholars of history, literature, and other humanistic fields.
Some of the leading independent research libraries had in earlier years received funds from the Foundation for various purposes--including cataloguing projects and residential fellowships. Only in 1991, as the Foundation began to collect and analyze data on the changing finances of these institutions, did the idea emerge of offering matching endowment grants to support the core functions of these institutions. Based on analyses of their spending and investing since the 1970s in relation to the development of scholarly and educational programs, the Foundation appropriated some $11.7 million, primarily in 1992 and 1993, to help the libraries increase their endowments and to reassess their uses of income from investments. Two in-depth studies were launched (both now published, by Jossey-Bass): Jed I. Bergman's Managing Change in the Nonprofit Sector examined the financial histories of the Huntington, Pierpont Morgan, Newberry, Folger, and American Antiquarian Society, and Kevin Guthrie's volume, The New-York Historical Society: Lessons from One Nonprofit's Long Struggle for Survival. These books provide case studies that we hope will be useful to many cultural and other nonprofit institutions as they examine their own financial predicaments in light of changing circumstances.
Until the 1960s, the leading independent research libraries were able to support almost their entire operations from the income earned from endowment. This was the case, in part, because the operations were simpler in the past, reflecting a more passive view of what an independent research library ought to be. As the libraries sought new ways of serving scholars and students in the 1960s and 1970s, they developed seminar and fellowship programs and launched ambitious construction and renovation projects. The sizes of their staffs expanded, as did the number of people using the libraries. At first, it was possible to finance expansion by relying heavily on grants from foundations and government agencies. But maintaining the purchasing power of their endowments while working constantly to renew grant support--a formidable challenge under even the best of circumstances--was further complicated by unanticipated, rapidly rising costs in a number of areas. By the mid-1980s, these libraries recognized that their budgets were seriously out of balance and the process began of reviewing both financial management practices and the priorities assigned to various programmatic activities.
When the results of concerted efforts by the libraries' directors and boards of trustees began to emerge, the Foundation offered its assistance in the form of matching endowment restricted to support the core functions of several of the leading libraries. The Folger Shakespeare Library is using its 1992 grant to endow a permanent fund for the library's scholarly publications and to provide partial support for curatorships. The American Antiquarian Society has endowed activities in conservation, a curatorship of printed books, and the directorship of the library. The Pierpont Morgan Library and the Henry E. Huntington Library also have endowed core staff positions. Similar grants have been made to several other institutions including the Virginia, Massachusetts, and Chicago Historical Societies, the Library Company of Philadelphia, and the Hagley Museum and Library.
The Foundation has less frequently in recent years supported "finite" projects at these institutions, but compelling cases for such grants do continue to arise: in 1995, for example, the New Jersey Historical Society received support for its efforts to organize and catalogue its extensive collections of early photographs, which document the development of the region. Because this project is an early, crucial step in a plan already being followed to reorganize all the collections and to relocate the entire historical society to a more functional building at a more accessible location, the Foundation awarded a grant that, at first, might appear inconsistent with our declared emphasis on core support.
Centers for Advanced Research
There are, in both the United States and Europe, a small number of centers with magnificent facilities for scholars who wish to conduct research or to write for sustained periods. One way in which the Foundation has assisted these institutions is by providing funds to support year-long fellowships-in-residence. The National Humanities Center in North Carolina, perhaps the most significant center for the humanities because its annual fellowship cohort is large and includes many fields, received funds in 1991 for several annual blocs of fellowship stipends and for matching endowment of its fellowship program. Other centers have also received funds--including, in 1993, the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences and Harvard University's Center for Italian Renaissance Studies (Villa I Tatti) and, in 1991, the American Academy in Rome--for use toward costs of competitively-selected, year-long humanities fellowships.
Beyond supporting individual research centers of proven value to scholars, the Foundation has tried occasionally to increase the connections between particular groups of scholars and certain kinds of institutions. We continue, as mentioned earlier, to support a program of fellowships for East European humanists at West European centers for advanced research. Through this program, teachers and scholars of the humanities from the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland, and Slovakia have been able to spend periods in residence at such centers as the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris, the Warburg Institute in London, the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin, Villa I Tatti in Florence, and several others. Each fellow is given a stipend and travel funds, and an allotment to be used to purchase books for his home institution's library. In addition to the opportunities for research in archives, museums, and other repositories and the opportunity to consult colleagues from Western Europe and the US, fellowship holders report that they have sometimes learned about schools of interpretation that are virtually unknown at home.
The Association of Research Institutes in Art History, observing that art historians in Latin America had too few opportunities for study at North American and European centers, received a 1994 grant from the Foundation to support fellowships at such institutes as the Yale Center for British Art, the Centre Canadien d'Architecture, and the American Antiquarian Society. When the Harry H. Ransom Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin noted that its rich collections, especially of 19th- and 20th-century European and American literary materials, were underutilized, the Foundation provided funds for short-term fellowships at the Center, which draw almost as many scholars from abroad as from the US.
Expanding the opportunities for scholars to work at centers for advanced research is only part of the Foundation's general concern to strengthen such centers. It is sometimes not fully recognized that hosting research fellows or seminars makes heavy demands on a center's staff and facilities. The Foundation has therefore provided several centers with core support, usually on a matching basis. The American School of Classical Studies at Athens, for example, received a grant in 1993 for matching endowment of the position of director of its Gennadius Library. Also in 1993, the Foundation provided matching endowment grants to undergird the American Academy in Rome's two school directorships--Classical Studies and Fine Arts--and to support the head librarian's position at the John Carter Brown Library in Rhode Island.
Scholarly Tools and Texts
The Foundation's support of the humanities has emphasized the long-term health of institutions already heavily invested in the humanities, but some support also continues to be provided annually for research "projects." A "project"--to borrow from Aristotle--has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When, in the 1970s and early 1980s, the finances of both universities and funders were somewhat less constrained, most of the costs of projects were covered by external grants, and universities could afford to think of "projects" as wholly separable from the budgets of permanent departments of the university.
The tightening of budgets has led most universities and funders to a different perspective. For our part, interest in supporting research "projects" in the humanities now focuses almost exclusively on long-term collaborative projects that ultimately lead to the publication of major reference works and research tools. These invariably also require significant support from their host universities--in commitments of faculty time, working space that exceeds a faculty member's office, graduate assistants, and computer support.
Over the past several years we have witnessed other dramatic changes in the kinds of projects that have been proposed for support, particularly with regard to their uses of technology. Reflecting the earlier norm, several grants have supported continuing work on long-term projects that have as their ultimate "product" a series of printed volumes. The Dictionary of American Regional English, based at the University of Wisconsin at Madison since it began in 1965--and which the Foundation has supported since 1977--received additional support for editorial work on volumes 3-5 (of a projected total of five). The Dictionary of Old English, which is located at the University of Toronto, and The Correspondence of Charles Darwin project, which is managed by the American Council of Learned Societies, also received grants. It is worth noting that in all three of these cases, substantial amounts of matching funds are required, reflecting the Foundation's preference for projects that are given tangible support by their home institutions and others.
More visible in recent years have been projects for the creation of scholarly tools that include both printed and electronic components. The American Historical Association's two-volume Guide to Historical Literature, which the Foundation has supported, appeared in print in 1995, and plans are being made for it to be available electronically. The University of Houston's project to recover and publish early Hispanic literature, originally conceived as a series of books, quickly took advantage of technology to make available full databases of this material, including works whose sales would probably not have justified publication as either hardbound or paperback books. The Frick Collection's multi-volume dictionary, Spanish Artists from the Fourth to the Twentieth Century, also plans eventually to have both printed and electronic versions.
Perhaps the most ambitious of our recent grants for projects of this type is the support provided to the American Council of Learned Societies toward costs of preparing the American National Biography (ANB), a planned 20-volume collection of approximately 20,000 biographies of significant individuals in American history. A project of this scale would be even more difficult to manage without the use of digital technology, which aids not only the preparation of the initial publication, but also makes periodic updating extremely simple. Never again, it is believed, will a new edition of a biographical dictionary of prominent Americans need to be started "from scratch," as the ANB was a few years ago.
Several of the humanistic projects that have received recent support are wholly or largely electronic. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is developing an interactive archive for the study of Shakespeare that will include the complete texts of various editions of the plays, digital images of manuscript and print correlative material, film performances, and a variety of other research materials designed to enrich both research and teaching about Shakespeare and the Elizabethan era. (Digitized images of the Folger Shakespeare Library's extensive collection of First Folios, for example, will be included.) With a similar goal, Cornell's "Making of America" digital library project plans eventually to digitize a large supply of primary source material on the history of the United States from 1850 through 1950. Along similar lines, Dumbarton Oaks received support to develop its Byzantine Hagiography Database, an integrated electronic collection of material of value to scholars of Byzantium, who are not numerous and who are scattered throughout the world. We anticipate that the Foundation will continue to support a modest number of efforts to prepare scholarly tools, and these will increasingly take advantage of technology. Because funds are limited, we also anticipate giving preference to projects that have an impressive rate of past "productivity" and require collaboration by many scholars over long periods.
The advantages of electronic means of production and dissemination of scholarly materials are especially easy to appreciate in the case of large reference works comprised of many separate contributions: research in the humanities will undoubtedly be made easier by the increased availability in electronic form of finding aids and reference works. But the problems facing scholarly publication in the humanities are larger than the problem of sustaining reference works. In particular, the sales of humanities monographs--in many ways the basic unit for communicating the results of research in the humanities--have fallen precipitously in the past decade to the point where it is frequently not financially feasible for university presses and other publishers to undertake the publication of such works. In some fields, the problem is especially pronounced. In French history, for example, publishers report that 15 years ago the typical monograph might have sold 1,500 to 2,000 copies (when the "break-even" point for sales was approximately 1,100 copies). Today, the typical monograph in French history sells 500 copies (when the break-even point is still approximately 1,100 copies). (Note 2) As a result, fewer monographs are being published, sales are still low, and the temptation persists to publish ever fewer books.
To break this cycle, the Foundation is trying to assist publishers in their efforts to find ways to make the publication of humanities monographs viable once again. A 1994 grant to the University of California for its "Project SCAN," a venture undertaken jointly by the library of the Berkeley campus and the University of California Press, focuses on both monographs and journals in two fields, classics and 19th-century literature, and proposes to test the feasibility of electronic publication of work in both fields. The potential of this approach is that it will make small print runs cost-effective and, more importantly, facilitate access to sections of books or even whole books in electronic form with the further options of allowing readers to browse, download, or print texts. The University of California is experimenting with different pricing models for each type of access in the hope of determining levels that can be sustained by publishers and are affordable for scholarly users.
Like book-length monographs, humanities journals have also been buffeted by rising costs. In discussions of the constrained acquisitions budgets of libraries, the large subscription price increases for journals in the humanities have gained less notoriety than the astronomical increases in the rates for some science journals, but they nevertheless have exerted similar pressure on library budgets. The Foundation made a grant in 1995 to Emory University for a joint effort with Scholars Press to test the feasibility of electronic versions of four journals in the field of religious studies published by the American Academy of Religion, the Society of Biblical Literature, and the American Schools of Oriental Research. Both large and small and both popular and highly specialized journals are included. These are being made available simultaneously in print and electronic form, by subscription, to both individuals and libraries. (Note 3)
One important way in which the Emory-Scholars Press project is typical of several that the Foundation has recently supported is that it was initiated by a "hybrid" organization consisting of a university, a scholarly press, and several learned societies. We have found that many of the most imaginative attempts to deal with the problems confronting scholarly publishing today bring together research libraries, presses, and learned societies in novel arrangements for editorial control, division of revenues, and production.
In the present period of innovation in scholarly publishing, there is a danger that many idiosyncratic projects will flourish, but will prove to be incompatible with one another. Happily, there are groups thinking about encouraging standardized ways of doing business. One of the most influential is the Center for Electronic Texts in the Humanities which, with grants from the Foundation in 1991 and 1994, has been a leader in efforts to establish protocols for the electronic coding of texts irrespective of choices of particular hardware and software. The Center is trying to assure that material that has been made ready for electronic access will remain widely available. Supported by both Rutgers and Princeton Universities, the Center has been especially effective in encouraging editors, librarians, and publishers to conform to the "tags" of Standard Generalized Markup Language (SGML) and to use the "headers" developed by the Text Encoding Initiative.
A Special Case: Latin American Studies
In general, the Foundation has not seized upon particular fields of study--either those that are traditional, but endangered, or those that are newly emerging--and made grants to promote their development. We have been concerned, rather, with the humanities broadly understood--sometimes supporting programs in particular disciplines or in specific interdisciplinary areas, and sometimes in encouraging the broadest kinds of humanistic perspective and understanding, such as those the Sawyer Seminars hope to encourage. Our disinclination to enter into the "culture wars" or to anticipate--or seek to influence--trends in the content of humanities scholarship stems, in part, from the Foundation's emphasis on long-term support of institutions. Another factor has been the Foundation's policy of not considering proposals from individuals. Most grants attempt to strengthen the capacities of leading institutions to carry out high quality research and teaching in the humanities, without dwelling on the particular directions that individual research projects may take.
There are exceptions, of course, and a notable one has been the field of Latin American studies, in which the Foundation has had special interest. Unlike many fields of the humanities, Latin American studies has experienced impressive growth of student interest over the past 15 years. The job market for new PhDs in the field is also surprisingly buoyant compared with others. With rapidly rising university enrollments in many Latin American countries, the founding of many new universities there, and the increased number of scholars in those countries, there have been persistent attempts by scholars throughout the hemisphere to work collaboratively with one another.
In recognition of these changing circumstances, the Foundation has provided less general support to university centers of Latin American studies than it once did, and has focused its support of Latin American studies on two specific aspects of the field. Linking the research resources and networks of scholarly communication throughout the Western hemisphere is one major Foundation objective. A 1994 grant to the Consejo Latinoamericano de Ciencias Sociales (CLACSO) in Buenos Aires is providing training for scholars in Latin America on the uses of electronic databases. The University of Florida is digitizing a collection of rare Caribbean newspapers and the Center for Research Libraries an important collection of early Brazilian government documents, in the expectation that these materials will become readily accessible to students and scholars throughout the Western hemisphere and make possible new lines of research. And the newly formed cooperative network of 32 North American research libraries is offering scholars better access to journals, digitized documents, and the "gray literature" publications of research institutes from Mexico and Argentina. Recent grants to Brazil's Universidade de São Paulo and Fundaçâo Getúlio Vargas, to the Universidad de Costa Rica, and to the Association of Research Libraries are allowing bibliographic records of major US and Latin American research collections to become accessible throughout the hemisphere.
The Foundation is also supporting efforts to strengthen the preparation of Latin Americanists in US universities, by building upon the main structures of PhD programs in disciplinary departments. Grants in 1994 to four universities in which both the sociology department and other aspects of Latin American studies are strong (Johns Hopkins University, University of California at Berkeley, University of California at Los Angeles, and University of Texas at Austin) and in 1995 to three universities in which both the PhD program in history and other Latin Americanist studies are of very high quality (Harvard University, University of Chicago, and Yale University) represent the beginnings of these efforts, which we believe are more likely to be sustained by the universities even if budget reductions have adverse effects on the programs of centers and institutes that are not as integral to each university's structure.
Several multi-institutional programs in Latin American studies have also received support. The joint program of Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill has achieved an unusual degree of inter-institutional collaboration, and is a model of how much can be gained by cooperation. Elsewhere, impressive efforts to pool the separate strengths of three universities for graduate training in Latin American literature are being supported by a grant to Boston University for a program undertaken in cooperation with Harvard and Brown Universities. Efforts such as these, we believe, will convert the present positive trajectory of the field into institutional arrangements that will serve it well even when the current surge of popularity has ended, as it inevitably will.
Prognostications about the future of the humanities--even dire warnings of their demise--have not had much influence on their general direction. We believe, as many scholars and students do, that the humanities are intrinsically important and will survive. The Foundation can be counted upon to continue its support for these fields. The extent of our commitment is demonstrated not only by the sizeable sums that have been invested year after year, but also by the ways in which the humanities remain central to our programs, including those that have other main purposes.
We hope that other foundations may share our perspective and that support for the core institutions--independent research libraries, scholarly presses, historical societies, independent liberal arts colleges, and research universities--will increase. But we are prepared to continue our activities even if a "sea change" does not occur.
Today even the leading institutions of education and culture struggle to maintain equilibrium and, no less than other institutions, require constant nurture. Some observers have suggested that foundations ought to be catalysts of change; that they should use their funds to encourage institutions to experiment with activities that ordinarily would not be of high priority for the use of regularly budgeted funds. Our view is that, particularly during periods of great financial risks for all cultural and educational institutions, change should be undertaken only when there is a reasonable likelihood that its results can be sustained, and that more effective and less costly ways of doing business will remain long after the period of transition that has been subsidized by a foundation's funds.
The humanities, more than many academic fields, have suffered from the lack of reliable data about their institutional condition. The Foundation has made modest efforts to improve the situation. In addition to the data collection and studies noted above, in 1993 the Foundation awarded funds to the American Council of Learned Societies to develop an inventory of existing databases on the humanities and to improve access to them. And, although the Foundation does not usually support conferences, in 1994 it supported symposia at the National Humanities Center and at Boston University, the papers of which are now being assembled into a volume of essays on the state of the humanities. Alvin Kernan is editing this volume for publication.
Because the well-being of the humanities remains a central tenet of much of what the Foundation does, my colleagues and I welcome inquiries about any aspect of the work supported by the Foundation.