National Endowment for the Humanities Chairman Speaks in Austin for the American Civility Tour

Oct. 5, 2010

Event: The Harry Ransom Center and University Co-op presents a Harry Ransom Lecture with National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH) Chairman Jim Leach, who will discuss "Civility in a Fractured Society" as part of the American Civility Tour.

When: 7 p.m., Oct. 28. Doors open 30 minutes in advance.

Where: Harry Ransom Center, 21st and Guadalupe streets, The University of Texas at Austin.

Background: Leach started a tour in November 2009 to visit each of the 50 states, speaking about the need for civility in public discourse.

The city of Austin is Leach's destination for the state of Texas, the 37th state on the tour. Leach's destinations after Texas include New Mexico, Delaware and Illinois, and the tour concludes in May 2011.

According to Leach, the political atmosphere is "bordering on a civility crisis at home and a civilization crisis abroad."

"If we don't try to understand and respect others, how can we expect them to respect us, our values and our way of life?" asks Leach. "The exchange of ideas and the consideration of other viewpoints are central to the humanities. We need to bring this spirit of reason back into politics."

Leach, who was a U.S. congressman for more than 30 years, believes civil behavior is no longer about manners but about personal security and global survival.

Created in 1965, the NEH is an independent federal agency that supports learning in history, literature, philosophy and other areas of the humanities. Leach has been its chairman since 2009.

This program will be webcast live.

The Harry Ransom Lectures honor former University of Texas Chancellor Harry Huntt Ransom and highlight the Ransom Center's vital role in the university's intellectual and cultural life. The program brings internationally renowned writers, artists and scholars to Austin for public events and conversations with students. The lectures are made possible by the support of the University Co-op.

A high-resolution press image of Leach is available.

For more information, contact: Jennifer Tisdale, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512 471 8949;  Alicia Dietrich, Harry Huntt Ransom Humanities Research Center, 512-232-3667.