About us

The humanities help us understand what it means to be human. We think that new ideas 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.

In November each year the festival brings together universities, museums, galleries, archives, independent research organisations, community and commercial partners to make research in the humanities accessible to non-specialist audiences and demonstrate its relevance to our everyday lives. 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.

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 festival aims to:

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

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

The festival is supported by a network of patrons.

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 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.