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UK’s first national humanities research festival announces funding awards to 36 universities

School of Advanced Study, University of London

Following a national competition, 36 higher education institutions have been awarded small grants of up to £3,000 to participate in the first UK-wide humanities research festival, led by the School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London.

The Being Human festival funding competition was launched at the beginning of the year, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy. To win one of the awards for funding, applicants had to successfully demonstrate how they would engage the public with humanities research, while highlighting its role in the cultural, intellectual, political and social life of the UK.

Funded events will cover topics as diverse as: the digital mapping of data on public happiness; public punishment and local memory in the Georgian West Country; the relationship between humour and being human; the contribution of humanities research to modern science; and Punch and Judy’s chocolate cornucopia of human knowledge.

The nine-day festival will run from 15 to 23 November 2014. Free-to-attend public events will be held in museums, galleries, and cultural and community centres at locations across the UK – from Orkney to Truro, Belfast to Swansea, and Liverpool to Norwich.

“Grant recipients were chosen from more than 100 innovative applications demonstrating the vitality and relevance of humanities research”, said festival director, Professor Barry Smith of the School of Advanced Study. “In their different ways, each of these events will invite us to explore the human world and the ways we make sense of it in a fast moving digital age.”

The festival aims to inform, extend and ignite contemporary thinking and imagination around the humanities through a broad range of public events, including debates, performances, virtual activities and exhibitions. Places are still available for self-funded events to be included in the programme. Applications should be made by 20 June 2014.

Chief Executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, Professor Rick Rylance, said: “The humanities are such an important part of our lives, and so central to everyday lives in this country now. Sometimes we take this for granted. So we warmly welcome the Being Human festival. It will allow us to celebrate the study of the human and to reflect on our connection with others. I look forward to it with enthusiasm.”

Dr Robin Jackson, Chief Executive and Secretary of the British Academy, said: “This is an exciting initiative, which the British Academy is delighted to be supporting. There is so much in humanities research in the UK that merits celebration, and I look forward to seeing a rich and thought-provoking range of examples in November.” 

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