City Lit Blog

City Lit supports the British Academy’s Manifesto for the Humanities and Social Sciences

Story added 15th Nov 2019


The fundamental purpose of learning is to cultivate our humanity, and the study of the humanities and social sciences lies at the centre of this endeavour.  Learning how to be human, developing understanding of ourselves and each other, is what we are really learning whether we’re debating philosophy, engaging in literary study, or analysing and interpreting art and its history.  The study of history enables us to understand where we have come from, learn from the past, and cultivate an informed future.  The study of politics empowers us as active citizens, providing the knowledge and confidence to participate in our communities and wider society.  

In addition to developing knowledge, when we are studying in the humanities, we are also cultivating our essential capacities to think critically and creatively, to read and interpret the world around us, and to connect, communicate and collaborate with each other.  To cultivate our humanity in this way means to cultivate empathy, and in a culture that is increasingly divided and antagonistic, there is nothing as important as supporting and developing our capacity to understand and care for each other.  The place to do this is within the humanities and social sciences, as well as through the arts and culture.

This is why we welcome and support The British Academy’s manifesto for the Humanities and Social Sciences, and add our voice to the call to ‘harness the vast potential of the humanities and social sciences and ensure the UK maintains its global reputation for excellence in these disciplines’.  

The British Academy’s manifesto sets out six ways in which the government can harness this potential, which we support wholeheartedly:

1. Speak up for humanities and social sciences 

2. Bolster our relationship with Europe and the rest of the world

3. Foster the right research environment 

4. Attract and Retain Global Talent

5. Support a sustainable higher education system

6. Build a broad and balanced curriculum for everyone

However, we would also like to affirm the role of adult learning here, and the role it plays in ensuring the latest research and knowledge is shared and put into practice through teaching in lifelong learning institutions across the country.  At City Lit we provide a broad and balanced curriculum for all of London’s adults, attracting teachers, academics and experts in their fields who share their expertise and cultivate knowledge, human understanding, cultural appreciation, and informed critical thinking with hundreds of learners every week.  

If we are to collectively come together to address, understand and solve the numerous problems facing us today, then the study of the humanities must be championed for its role. Whether we’re carrying out ground breaking research into the social impact of climate breakdown in our leading universities, or debating the fundamentals of democracy in a classroom on a Tuesday evening, engaging in the humanities benefits all of humanity and we must not underestimate the impact of learning across all levels of education.

We are proud to add our voice to the British Academy’s campaign, and join them in speaking up for our disciplines.  Together we can affirm the human within humanities, and work together to ensure humanity thrives now and in the future. We call on our current and future governments to consider and respond to the British Academy's manifesto as we approach this most important of elections.