Updates on the AHA’s Advocacy Efforts
AHA Staff, October 2016
This summer the American Historical Association joined with peer organizations to continue advocacy work around issues that affect higher education and academic freedom throughout the world.
The AHA learned of positive developments related to two areas of recent advocacy. In April 2016, the AHA joined dozens of organizations to support the nomination of Dr. Carla Hayden as the newest librarian of Congress. We are pleased to report that the Senate, recognizing overwhelming public support, confirmed the nomination on July 13, 2016, in a vote of 74–18. Dr. Hayden brings numerous professional skills and experience to the post, and the AHA looks forward to her tenure.
After efforts from the AHA and other humanities organizations protesting a proposed 69 percent reduction in Fulbright-Hays and Title VI funding, the US House of Representatives voted to maintain level funding for these international programs in the FY 2017 budget. The Senate will need to reconcile its 69 percent cut with the higher appropriation in the House budget. Keep up with the National Coalition for History for ways to reach out to your senator to protect these programs.
Academic Freedom in Turkey
On February 4, 2016, the American Historical Association sent a letter to Turkish president Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, expressing "alarm and deep concern regarding reports of punitive measures and criminal investigations taken against Turkish academics who recently signed a petition addressing Turkish government policies in southeastern Turkey." Following an attempted coup in July, the government increased its persecution of academics and others. The AHA responded by joining with peer organizations in other disciplines and across the world in supporting academic freedom and institutional integrity essential to scholarship and teaching. On July 19, the AHA endorsed a statement by Scholars at Risk calling for ongoing dialogue about and the restoration of legal rights to academics in Turkey. Shortly thereafter, the AHA signed on to a statement issued by the Middle Eastern Studies Association appealing for the autonomy of universities in Turkey and respect for academic freedom; offering support to our Turkish colleagues; and calling on diplomatic interlocutors, scholarly organizations around the world, and academic institutions to also lend their support.
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