“The Humanities in America: The Case for Public Funding” with Brenna Daugherty

Episode 14:
Originally broadcast: March 14, 2010



What are the humanities and why are they important? How can the National Endowment for the Humanities claim that their activities are “critical to our common civic life as a nation?” And most controversially, should the U.S. government fund such cultural endeavors? In this episode of Why? we examine the philosophical issues related to what has come to be called the public humanities: the effort of both private and governmental organizations to create and supports events that disseminate philosophy, history, literature, and other arts to the general public.

A North Dakota native, Brenna Daugherty is currently the executive director of the North Dakota Humanities Council, the state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She received a master’s degree in Theological Studies from the Harvard Divinity School in June 2005. Brenna has been awarded the Prudential Spirit of Community Award Bronze medal, a STAND Leader Americorp Education Award, and the Concordia College Servant Leadership Award for her work with early intervention for college attendance. At Concordia, her undergraduate alma mater, she was a founding member of TOCAR, a tri-college anti-racism initiative, and while at Harvard she was a founding member of Equitas, a social justice think tank.

Why?’s host Jack Russell Weinstein says, “I can think of no single person who is more intrinsic to the dissemination of the humanities in North Dakota. It is exciting to get the chance to talk theory with Brenna. Why should the community support what she does? Why are the humanities key to the development of citizenship? This discussion is going to be more controversial than one might otherwise think.”

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