LINGUIST List 6.694

Wed 17 May 1995

FYI: USA: Linguistic research funding threatened

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  1. Tony Woodbury, Re: Linguistics threatened with elimination at NSF

Message 1: Re: Linguistics threatened with elimination at NSF

Date: Wed, 17 May 1995 00:02:03 Re: Linguistics threatened with elimination at NSF
From: Tony Woodbury <>
Subject: Re: Linguistics threatened with elimination at NSF

Dear LINGUIST Colleagues:

The following item, from the [U.S.] Federation of Behavioral,
Psychological, and Cognitive Sciences, has been in circulation since
Monday, May 15. It describes a U.S. House of Representatives Budget
Committee recommendation to eliminate National Science Foundation funding
*entirely* for the social and behavioral sciences, including Linguistics.
It urges those U.S. citizens and residents interested in continued support
for Linguistics and allied sciences to contact their congresspersons
*immediately*, since an important vote may be taken as soon as this week.

Let me also pass on the following further recommendations:

Those who have received U.S. Federal government research support--whether
from NSF or some other agency--are urged to describe to their
Congressperson any useful or interesting results of their work in order
better to inform them of the value of the language sciences.

Furthermore, it would be especially useful to describe results which in any
way contradict House Science Committee Chair Robert Walker (R-PA)'s
assertion (see below) that the NSF Directorate for Social and Behavioral
Sciences was created simply because it was "politically correct." This not
only means results which might seem antithetical to "political
correctness," but also results that are beyond any such ideological

Tony Woodbury (

Dept. of Linguistics Phone: (512) 471 1701
Calhoun Hall 501 Fax: (512) 471 4340
University of Texas
Austin, TX 78712


 Date: May 15
 From: Margaret Jean Intons-Peterson
 Department of Psychology
 Indiana University
 Bloomington, Indiana 47405


)From the Federation of Behavioral, Psychological and Cognitive Sciences

The House Budget Committee has recommended the complete elimination of
NSF research funding for Psychology, Anthropology, Sociology,
Linguistics, Political Science, Economics, Geography, Cognitive Science,
Decision, Risk and Management Sciences, History of Science, and
Statistical Research for the Behavioral and Social Sciences-- as NSF's
contribution to balancing the Federal budget.

There is no doubt that NSF funding will be cut in the effort to balance
the budget. But to selectively wipe out the behavioral and social
sciences goes far beyond simply saving money. This is the most important
crisis these sciences have faced since Ronald Reagan attempted to
eliminate the same sciences in the early 1980s. Action on this will
happen very quickly. The Budget Committee approved the budget package on
May 11. The vote on the package by the full House will happen sometime
between the 15th and 18th of May. In all likelihood, the budget
resolution will pass the House unaltered. The Appropriations Committee
will be bound by the spending limits imposed by the Budget Committee.
But it need not be bound by the particular cuts recommended by the Budget
Committee! Unfortunately, the House leadership has also made it known
that no program that lacks a current authorization will be funded. The
National Science Foundation is not currently authorized. Efforts to pass
its authorization failed last year in the Senate. The House Science
Committee Chair, Robert Walker (R-PA) has said that as soon as the budget
is passed, the Science Committee will proceed to report its
authorizations which include, among other things, NSF, NASA, and the
research programs of the Department of Energy. Robert Walker is also the
Vice-Chair of the Budget Committee, and he played a key role in
determining the selective cuts at NSF. In a news conference on May 12,
Walker said that the Directorate containing the research programs
mentioned above was created simply because it was "politically correct"
and that it is now time to make a correction. This means that there is
little chance the NSF authorization from his Committee will contain an
authorization for the Social, Behavioral, and Economic Sciences
Directorate. If the Committee does not authorize the Directorate, the
Appropriations Committee cannot fund the research programs it contains.
So scientists must pay close attention to actions of the Budget,
Appropriations, and the authorizing committee.

The only way the course of events can be changed is for concerned
citizens to let their elected representatives know that they as voters to
not approve of these ideological cuts masquerading as budget balancing
measures. You must take it on yourself immediately to

1) write or call your own representative and senator's office to express
your disapproval

2) send a copy of your letter to: Robert Walker, George Brown (ranking
minority member of the Science Committee and a likely ally of behavioral
and social scientists), Jerry Lewis (Chairman of the House Appropriations
Subcommittee that appropriates money for the National Science
Foundation). And this next thing is equally important: SEND, FAX OR
PSYCHOLOGICAL, AND COGNITIVE SCIENCES. We have to be able to monitor how
great an impact behavioral and social scientists are having, and the only
way we can do that is by keeping track of how many contacts from
scientists congressional offices have received. Any letter to Congress
may be addressed as follows: Representative's name, U.S. House of
Representatives (or U.S. Senate) Washington, D.C. 20515 (House) or 20510
(Senate). The Federation email is Federation fax is
(202) 336-6158. If you need more information, our telephone number is
(202) 336-5920.

3) Help us get the word out. Please see that the anthropology,
sociology, linguistics, economics, political science, cognitive science,
and geography departments on your campus receive this action alert as

4) It is very important that elected representatives do not hear only
from the scientists affected. If you have acquaintances in the physical
or biological sciences or the university administration who would write a
letter or make a phone call to an elected representative, do everything
you can to get such a communication sent.

Margaret Jean Intons-Peterson
Department of Psychology
Indiana University
Bloomington, Indiana 47405
Phone: 812-855-3991
Fax: 812-855-4691
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