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Dean Kilgore Advocates for the Humanities on Capitol Hill

Published on 05 April 2019

On March 11, Kimberly Kilgore, Ph.D., dean of the college of arts and sciences at St. Louis College of Pharmacy, traveled to Washington, D.C. to advocate for the humanities on Capitol Hill.

As a member of the Council of Colleges of Arts and Sciences, a national association aimed at sustaining the arts and sciences as a leading influence in American higher education, Kilgore was contacted to represent Missouri during this year’s Humanities Advocacy Day.

Organized each year by the National Humanities Alliance (NHA), a nationwide coalition of colleges, universities, scholarly societies, museums, libraries and state humanities councils that advocates for federal funding and policies for the humanities, Humanities Advocacy Day gives alliance members the opportunity to meet one-on-one with members of Congress to bring attention to the humanities and discuss the importance of funding for related programs.

Participants arrived on March 11, the day before Humanities Advocacy Day, to attend an educational seminar held by the NHA highlighting advocacy techniques and important humanities legislation. The next day, advocacy day participants gathered on Capitol Hill to meet with senators and state representatives from their respective districts. The visit gave participants the opportunity to share their personal stories about the importance of the humanities directly with those holding the power to make a difference.

“Everyone we met with was very supportive,” stated Kilgore. “I had the opportunity to communicate about how critical humanities education is to becoming a great health care practitioner. Having an understanding of different cultures and backgrounds is essential for providers to see patients as whole individuals. The humanities help students learn about the warmth, communication and human aspects of health care that are so important to the patient experience.”

Advocates asked congressional members to help promote and protect the humanities in three ways:

  • Join the bipartisan Congressional Humanities Caucus or Senate Cultural Caucus, which are groups represented in the House of Representatives and Senate created to strengthen the nation’s awareness of the humanities and support humanities-related policies and legislation.
  • Sign a "Dear Colleague" letter to members in their respective chamber to ask for funding support for the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), an organization which works to support high-quality projects and programs in the humanities and make the humanities available to all Americans by providing training for teachers and supporting scholarly research among other things.
  • Sign a "Dear Colleague" letter supporting funding for the Department of Education Title VI and Fulbright-Hays programs, both focused on international and foreign language education.

“Even though we are a school of pharmacy, the humanities are an important part of our curriculum,” explained Kilgore. “In order for us to produce outstanding health care practitioners who will serve patients and society, it is critical for both science and the humanities to be represented in their education.”

While Congress continues its work to finalize the 2020 budget, Kilgore is excited to see where her efforts on Capitol Hill will lead.

“It was really interesting to see the political process at work,” Kilgore said. “You are just one person that is part of this huge process. The Capitol is right there and you are walking around talking to people who can truly make a difference. I feel like I was able to contribute to society, and hopefully future generations of students, in an important way.”

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