Fall 2016 Advocacy Update

Building on the 2015 decision of the ASA Board of Directors, the African Studies Association has expanded its advocacy efforts and engagements in 2016. The ASA will continue to inform our members of opportunities for advocacy, and reminds our members to review the ASA advocacy policy, which includes a mechanism for members to request position statements from the Board.

In June, the ASA shared with our members that the Senate Appropriations Committee approved a bill that would cut Fulbright-Hays funding by 69% in 2017, and that there was a danger that the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee would make even deeper cuts in their proposed budget for 2017. The President also included such a cut in his proposed 2017 budget. We asked members to participate in an effort spearheaded by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), and write to their elected officials and support Fulbright-Hays. This initiative yielded over 4,000 letters to Congress, and the ASA thanks all of our members that lent their voices. In July, it was announced that the House of Representatives Appropriations Committee voted to provide $65.103 million for Title VI and $7.061 million for Fulbright-Hays, which puts the proposed 2017 budget at the same funding levels as 2016. These varying bills have not yet been resolved for the final 2017 Appropriations Bill, but the ASA will continue to inform our members of developments and funding updates.

The ASA joined scholarly organizations in August in signing on to a letter from the Middle East Studies Association (MESA) expressing concern on threats to Turkish Academic Freedom and Higher Education. You can read the letter in full on the MESA website.

In October, the ASA participated in the National Humanities Alliance (NHA) Humanities Check In Week, an initiative designed to let members of Congress know their constituents want them to continue funding the humanities. During Humanities Check In Week, the NHA asked individuals to write to their representatives in Congress in support of the National Endowment for the Humanities. This initiative should remind all ASA members of your individual power in advocacy, and you can still write your representatives in Congress to encourage them to support funding for international education, Fulbright-Hays, the humanities, and more.

You can find out who your representatives are, as well as how to write to them, here. Messages to Congress should be succinct (no more than one page), but personalized – let your elected representatives know how you personally have benefited from funding for international education, Fulbright-Hays, or other government supported programs. You can review a suggested letter template from the Fulbright Association as an example.
 
The ASA has partnered with the National Humanities Alliance to feature quarterly blog posts from the NHA on our site. You can view the recently posted blogs on our blog page. This quarter’s blog post discusses the impact your emails to Congress have – and lets you know how to get more involved.

Finally, the ASA is excited to bring advocacy to this year’s Annual Meeting in DC, with a pre-conference workshop in collaboration with the National Humanities Alliance. This all-day workshop will provide participants with an opportunity to learn how to serve as an advocate for federal funding for the humanities, and the chance to have hands-on advocate experience with visits to Capitol Hill to meet with elected federal officials. Watch the ASA blog in December, as we will feature an interview with Dr. Beatrice Gurwitz, Assistant Director of the National Humanities Alliance, and will share some of the take-aways about current federal funding levels, trends in funding, and training on advocacy strategies and talking points that will be shared at the workshop.