“The British Academy has long argued that the humanities and social sciences are essential components of a thriving and prosperous nation,” according to the esteemed historian Diarmaid MacCulloch Kt FBA. “But, as the COVID-19 crisis demonstrates, these pursuits are also vital to our well-being. Whether it is literature, drama, psychology, history or languages, it is to the humanities and social sciences that we turn to make sense of, and escape from, the world around us. Now more than ever, we need the stimulation, the fulfillment and, indeed, the comfort that these subjects provide.”
And so the British Academy has begun mobilizing its community of social scientists and humanities scholars to support the United Kingdom’s government and its populace as they fight the COVID pandemic today and deal with its impacts tomorrow.
The UK’s academy for the humanities and social sciences announced today that a steering group of its fellows, chaired by its vice president for social sciences, professor Dominic Abrams, and its vice president for humanities, professor Aditi Lahiri, will harness the collective expertise in the fight. They will be joined by a wider caucus drawn from disciplines ranging from sociology, psychology, economics and international relations to anthropology, linguistics, philosophy and history.
“A group of the world’s foremost social science and humanities researchers will harness the expertise within our fellowship and researcher community to examine the human and societal issues that will shape our future from how we interact with our environment to how we rebuild connections with each other,” said the academy’s president, Sir David Cannadine, noting that the academy is already the advising the government on some matters. “In rethinking the way we live, we must be sure to do it right – a task that undoubtedly calls for the leading lights from across the humanities and social sciences.
“Though the immediate challenges are medical, the insights from these disciplines will become increasingly crucial as we navigate out of lockdown and towards a new way of living.”
At the same time, the academy aims to bring the humanities and social sciences into people’s homes to educate, inform and provide much needed intellectual escapism. World-leading academics will swap the lectern and traditional lecture format and deliver ten minute talks followed by online Q&A on the Academy’s YouTube channel. The first will be delivered at 1 p.m. BT on April 22 by MacCulloch (also the academy’s vice president for public engagement), on “Making the real Thomas Cromwell stand up.”
The academy will also take online its Summer Showcase, which last year saw 2,000 members of the public exploring the academy’s Carlton House Terrace building, meeting researchers and hearing from leading lights.