Humanities & the Public Good 2014


In 2013-14 TORCH hosted a special series of events bringing together leading scholars in the humanities and sciences, and influential figures beyond academia, to consider the role of the humanities in addressing contemporary challenges.  

On 27th January, Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, gave a presentation entitled In Everyone’s Interests: What It Means to Invest in the Humanities, followed by a round-table discussion involving Hermione Lee (Biographer & President of Wolfson College), Marcus du Sautoy (Charles Simonyi Professor for the Public Understanding of Science), Charlotte Higgins (Chief Arts Writer, The Guardian) & Nick Hillman (Director of the Higher Education Policy Institute). You can watch the discussion again here.

Four subsequent round-table lunchtime seminars addressed the following questions:  

  • What's wrong and what's right with the standard defences of the Humanities?
  • Two Cultures or a Shared Enterprise? Science and the Humanities
  • Where's the Virtue in the Humanities?
  • What have the Humanities to teach the modern university?

Other events included a postgraduate conference hosted at Ertegun House, and a workshop considering the place of humanities in higher education access initiatives. The series culminated in a conference on the Activist Humanities, which welcomed scholars and activists from around the globe to consider the active role of the humanities in a comparative and connected global context. Speakers at the keynote panel discussion "Activist Humanities in a Global Context" were Ahdaf Soueif (Booker Prize nominated Egyptian novelist), Paul Smith (Director of the British Council, USA), and Robin Kelley (Gary B. Nash Professor of American History, UCLA).


Hannah Penny

Past Events