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Opening a National Dialogue on the Humanities

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    From left to right: UM President Donna E. Shalala; MDC President Eduardo Padrón; UM alumna and international superstar Gloria Estefan, who was a panelist; and Leslie Berlowitz, president of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

    In a move to create a national dialogue for the humanities and social sciences, Miami Dade College (MDC), in collaboration with the University of Miami, hosted the Humanities and Civil Society forum on September 14 at MDC’s Wolfson campus.

    At the event, which was organized by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, UM President Donna E. Shalala and MDC President Eduardo J. Padrón heard testimony from 12 distinguished panelists, including UM alumna and international superstar Gloria Estefan; Mihoko Suzuki, director of UM’s Center for the Humanities; and several UM alumnae and community leaders.

    The American Academy of Arts & Sciences organized the forum to find innovative ways for the U.S. to maintain national excellence in the humanities and social sciences.

    Estefan was the first to share her story, describing how she began attending public school in the U.S. as a recent Cuban immigrant. She fondly remembered her music and social science teachers and the band practice and humanities and social science classes that guided and shaped her talent at a young age.

    Suzuki focused on innovative University-wide initiatives that engage the faculty, students, and the community in support of the humanities and social sciences. She mentioned UM’s active collaboration with Books & Books, the Miami-Dade Cultural Affairs Council, and the yearlong event celebrating the humanities on the UM campus, Taking Flight. Suzuki also shared examples of working with K-12 teachers who are responsible for transmitting the importance of humanities and social sciences to the next generation of teachers. As the last speaker Suzuki echoed the testimony of the previous panelists when she encouraged Congress to reverse the 60 percent decline in funding of the humanities and social sciences nationwide.

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