Grant donors favor history, culture

Jason Clevenger

Political science and sociology research funding decreases

A recent study showed a rise in grant funding for anthropology and history, while funding for political science and sociology is declining, according to the American Political Science Association.

That trend prevails at Kent State.

Between 2004 and 2007, grant funding for the humanities has been almost constantly on the rise. Anthropology, sociology and political science had overall increases until this year.

In 2008, the political science department at Kent State lost a large percentage of grant funding. The department went from nearly $1.5 million in funding in 2007 toabout $390,000 in 2008 – almost a 75 percent decrease. A similar decrease can be found in sociology, which has lost 78 percent from last year’s funding.

Kenneth Bindas, a professor and chair of the history department at Kent State, offered a possible explanation. He said a grant program called We the People might account for the shift in funding.

The National Endowment for the Humanities, a government agency that provides grant money for research, enacted the We the People initiative to fund research in fields pertaining to American history and culture. Anthropology and history receive extra funding from We the People, while sociology and political science do not.

“We the People is geared toward the dissemination of information and focuses more on historical things,” Bindas said.

It is mainly focused on American studies, collaborative grants for running seminars and research grants.

But the decline in funding is nothing new to graduate students in the humanities.

“Since the 80s, funding for the humanities is declining,” Bindas said. “That’s the overwhelming difficulty for grad students: finding grant money.”

That is not to say grants are impossible to come by. Monika Flaschka, a graduate student at Kent State, was recently awarded a grant to do research on crimes of sexual assault during the Holocaust.

Despite sociology and political science having a larger decrease in funding this year, they still receive more grant money than anthropology and history overall. The total funding at Kent State for political science research over the last five years has been $4.2 million, and in sociology, $1.1 million.

The total over the last five years in grant funding for history and anthropology combined is just shy of $500,000.

John West, vice president for research, said Kent State’s political science department does well relative to other universities.

“There is an increase in funding across the university,” he added.

Contact College of Arts and Sciences reporter Jason Clevenger at [email protected].