Every year Being Human sets UK researchers from across the humanities - from subjects including archaeology, classics, history, languages, literature, and philosophy - the challenge of making their research interesting and relevant to the lives of the people and communities near to them. The results are often surprising.
Run by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, the festival’s rules are simple: get creative, get off campus, get out of your bubble, and don’t preach to the choir.
Rather than relying on the same big name speakers to do the talking, Being Human works on a more human level. Working from the ground up, the festival shines a light on the usually invisible research that usually happens behind closed doors in universities, museums, libraries and archives across the country.
This year the festival features over 250 events at locations stretching from Orkney Library to Margate Caves. Nearly all events are free and none cost more than £5 to attend. Perhaps more importantly, all of them have been designed to get academic experts out of their comfort zones and get them talking and interacting with different and diverse communities.
Events are taking place in towns, cities, villages and rural locations. There is even a spin off international programme of activities happening in Melbourne, Rome, the USA and Transylvania.
The festival’s 2019 theme is ‘Discoveries & Secrets’ and has inspired unusual events exploring untold stories, hidden histories and some of the secrets of our towns and cities. Activities range from the topical to the ‘out there’ and they are all thought provoking, entertaining and enriching. The festival events all highlight how this research can shape our perspectives and ideas about the past and the future and reflect on what it means to be human.