Being Human Festival Review

This year’s Being Human festival, a national showcase of the very best in UK humanities research, surpassed all expectations with in excess of 17,000 people attending more than 300 events in some 30 towns and cities, according to figures released today.

Beyond the face-to-face interactions the festival, led by the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS) with support from the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), the British Academy and the Wellcome Trust, extended across international borders on the web, reaching some 3.5 million by way of Twitter plus website visitors from the UK, Australia, India, Canada, US, Germany, Kenya, Russia, France and Italy.

‘The reach and scope of this year’s Being Human festival exceeded our expectations’, said festival director Professor Barry Smith, director of SAS’s Institute of Philosophy. ‘It shows just how vibrant and creative humanities research is these days. It’s so impressive to see the passion with which researchers are ready and able to demonstrate the interest and relevance of their research to everyday life.’

Being Human had its biggest day on 12 November, enjoying 3,335 visitors. Intense media interest sparked stories from Aberdeen to Camden, and Liverpool to Newcastle, as well as in the Times Higher Education, BBC News, The Guardian, BBC Radio 3 and The Observer. These figures exceed the festival’s previous peak of 12,600 visitors and 2.2 million through Twitter reached in 2014, its inaugural year.

Being Human 2015 involved 73 universities and cultural partners sharing the very best and most challenging thinking in the humanities with audiences across the country. It ran for 11 days from 11 to 22 November and used a full programme of talks, interactive workshops, exhibitions, and performances of immersive theatre, walks, music, dance and poetry to explore themes around politics, health and wellbeing, diversity, science and technology, arts and culture.

Preliminary feedback from more than 700 online evaluation submissions found that an overwhelming majority (91 per cent) said they learned something new at the festival. In addition, 88 per cent claim it had increased their knowledge of the humanities and more than three quarters (82 per cent), their understanding of the relevance of the humanities to everyday life.

Being Human provides a vital platform to celebrate and disseminate the innovative humanities research going on across the UK to the public, creative partners, alumni, staff, students and members of other academic institutions.

You can find out more about Being Human, sign up to our mailing list and have a look at photos from the more than 300 events on the festival website.