Between November 10th and 12th, NAS chairman Steve Balch participated in a symposium on the future of the humanities held in Florence, Italy by New York University's John Brademas Center for the Study of Congress. Among the twenty-eight other attendees were former Yale Law School Dean Anthony T. Kronman (author of a recent and widely praised defense of traditional liberal education, Education's End); former NEH Chairman Bruce Cole; Congressman Thomas Petri of Wisconsin; former Congressman Mickey Edwards of Oklahoma, currently Vice President of the Aspen Institute; John Agresto, past president of St. John's College in Santa Fe; Robert Berdahl, formerly UT president, Berkeley chancellor, and past president of the Association of American Universities, and Brad Wilson, executive director of Princeton University's James Madison Program in American Ideals and Institutions, a co-sponsor of the event.
In a discussion that refreshingly represented a significant variety of perspectives Dr. Balch pressed the point that gaining broad-based support for the humanities required regaining broad-based confidence in them, impossible unless humanistic scholarship shed its present ideological partisanship. When the moderator asked whether the next symposium on the humanities might be organized in a more inclusive way, Dr. Balch suggested that the invitation list be expanded to include some "soldiers, business-people, evangelicals, and talk-show hosts." Having sampled Florentine cuisine, as well as the hospitality of NYU's La Pietra conference center, a fifteenth century villa located in the Tuscan hills, Dr. Balch hopes to be on that list as well.
On November 16th and 17th, Dr. Balch visited the campus of Carthage College in Kenosha, Wisconsin to speak on the place of Western civilization within the undergraduate curriculum. On the first day he spoke before an assemblage of Kenosha business and professional leaders on why the best type of global education is education about the West. On the second he addressed a faculty/student audience on how the study of Western civilization could be rescued from its current academic decline. Dr. Balch was also interviewed by local NPR radio host Greg Berg for WGTD's "The Morning Show," conferred with Carthage president F. Gregory Campbell, and participated in a number of classes in Carthage College's superb heritage program.