About us

The humanities help us understand what it means to be human. We think that the benefits of new research in this area – from archaeology, art history, philosophy, languages, literature, history, classics, cultural studies, music, theatre and theology – should be open to everyone.

About the festival

Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. A celebration of humanities research through public engagement, it is led by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, the UK’s national centre for the pursuit, support and promotion of research in the humanities, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Held in November each year, the nationwide festival brings together universities, museums, galleries, libraries, community and commercial partners to stage stimulating and engaging activities that make research accessible and relevant, strengthen community identity, and increase understanding of the relevance of the humanities to everyday life.

Every year we support researchers in the humanities – from art history and classics, literature and languages, history and philosophy – to produce non-traditional events and activities with a strong emphasis on co-production and mutual benefit.

The core objectives of the festival are:

  • to demonstrate the value and relevance of humanities research to society in the UK and globally;
  • to encourage, support and create opportunities for researchers to engage with non-specialist audiences;
  • to embed and join together public engagement activities in the humanities across the higher education (HE) sector.

Established in 2014, the Being Human festival has quickly become a national presence. Every year the festival features around 300 events across the country, working with an average of around 80 universities and research organisations in 50 towns and cities each year.

Since 2017, the festival has also begun to introduce international partnerships – with activities to date taking place in Singapore, Melbourne, Paris, Rome and Princeton. You can find out more about why we decided to start working internationally here.

How are we run?

Being Human is led by the School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy. This partnership draws together the three major bodies dedicated to supporting and promoting humanities research in the UK and internationally.

Festival team

Professor Sarah Churchwell – festival director
Dr Michael Eades – festival curator and manager
Dr Amanda Phipps – programme developer
Rose de Lara – projects and communications

Maureen McTaggart – press officer

The festival is also overseen by a steering committee comprising of representatives from the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Contact the team