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Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War

The humanities can play a vital role in helping us to understand the human experience and to consider our obligations to one another.  The question of what we owe each other becomes particularly urgent when men and women serve in wartime.  For nearly the first time in a generation—since the War in Vietnam—Americans have lived with the ongoing consequences of war.  Since 2001 over two million American men and women have been deployed in the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan.  Like their predecessors, many recent military veterans have risked everything in serving their country.  Yet, as members of an all-volunteer service corps, in which less than 1 percent of the U.S. population serves, they will not always find their military experiences readily understood by the public at large. 

In recognition of the importance of the humanities both in helping Americans to understand the experiences of service members and in assisting veterans as they return to civilian life, NEH has launched a special initiative titled Standing Together: The Humanities and the Experience of War.

This special initiative draws on the power of the humanities 1) to support advanced research in the humanities that explores war and its aftermath; 2) to promote discussion and deepened understanding of the experiences of those Americans affiliated with the armed services, whether active duty or veterans; and 3) to support returning veterans and their families. 

NEH welcomes proposals that have clear potential to involve the nation’s veterans.  All projects must be informed by scholarship and insights from the humanities.  Possible projects might, for example 

  • bring military veterans, humanities scholars, and communities together to discuss fiction or nonfiction writings as well as films that explore veterans’ experiences of military service and of returning home;
  • examine the experiences of military veterans through the medium of film, television, radio, or interpretive digital formats;
  • conduct advanced research on war and its aftermath for articles, monographs, books, digital materials, or other scholarly resources in the humanities;
  • convene college or school educators to study historical, literary, and philosophical materials of value and interest to veterans returning to the classroom; or
  • curate, preserve, and exhibit significant collections of veterans’ materials, such as letters, photographs, memorabilia, and oral histories.

To learn more about eligible projects and how to apply, please see: Program Guidelines


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