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WASHINGTON, D.C. | May 21, 2012 – The American Academy of
Arts and Sciences submitted written testimony for inclusion in the formal record of the
May 21, 2012 U.S. Senate hearing on A National Security Crisis: Foreign Language
Capabilities in the Federal Government.
In testimony presented to the Subcommittee on Oversight of the Senate Committee
on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs, Academy President Leslie C. Berlowitz
urged Congress to take steps to improve foreign language proficiency and cultural
competency among U.S. citizens. “Investing in these areas is critical to America’s
national security and economic well-being,” she said.
Citing the American Academy’s
Humanities Indicators, Berlowitz noted that only 15.7 percent of Americans
consider themselves fluent in a language other than English and only 3 percent of
Americans achieve fluency through academic study.
Foreign language fluency and knowledge of other cultures is one of the critical
skills identified by the Academy’s national Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences, according
to Berlowitz. The Commission will issue recommendations next year. The Academy testimony
outlines six initial findings for the subcommittee’s consideration.
The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, a steadfast supporter of the humanities and arts
in this country, provided primary funding for the Commission on the Humanities and
Social Sciences. Carnegie Coporation of New York also provided important funding.
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