The School of Advanced Study is uniquely placed to play a leading role in facilitating public engagement activity in the humanities. As an international centre dedicated to supporting and promoting humanities research, it is proud to take a leading role in embedding public engagement both institutionally and within a broader research culture.

The School is a signatory of the NCCPE’s Manifesto for Public Engagement. As such it recognises a responsibility to contributing to society through public engagement, to learning from and evaluating this process and to allowing staff, students and fellows to benefit from public engagement by gaining new perspectives and insights on their work.

View / download the School’s full Strategy for Public Engagement [PDF]

The School’s commitment to public engagement can be seen in its year-round series of flagship initiatives: the Being Human festival, Living Literature, and the Public Engagement Innovators’ Scheme.

Public engagement at SAS is led by Professor Sarah Churchwell, the School’s Chair in Public Understanding of the Humanities.

Being Human Festival

Led by the School of Advanced Study in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is the UK’s only national festival of the humanities. Established in 2014, and taking place annually at venues across the UK, the festival  offers an annual national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival highlights the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world.

The aims of the Being Human festival are to:

  • Demonstrate the value of humanities research to society and culture in the UK and globally
  • Encourage, support, and create opportunities for humanities researchers to engage with non-academic audiences
  • Demonstrate the relevance of the humanities to everyday life
  • Enhance public visibility and understanding of the humanities

In 2016 the festival programme features over 250 free events organised by 72 Universities and Independent Research Organisations in 45 towns and cities across the UK. The festival runs from 17-25 November with a programme themed around ‘Hope and Fear’. The full programme is available at


Living Literature

Living Literature is a new series of events from the School of Advanced Study, University of London, bringing an iconic work of art to life by using research expertise to shape an audience’s experience. Based on the model of immersive theatre, these immersive lectures will break down the barriers between audience and lecturer, and between audience and work of art, by creating dynamic, participatory avenues for audiences to discover key ideas, themes, histories, and contexts.

Moving beyond the idea of an audience passively listening to a single expert, these multidisciplinary, experiential, dynamic, educational experiences will immerse audiences in the world and ideas of an iconic work of art, breaking down perceived barriers between study and enjoyment.

Details of previous and forthcoming Living Literature events can be found at


Public Engagement Innovators’ Scheme

The Public Engagement Innovators Scheme offers small grants to facilitate public engagement with research activities within the School of Advanced Study (SAS), and with collections and archives in the Senate House Library (SHL). The scheme is intended to offer opportunities for researches and other eligible staff and students at SAS/SHL to engage with non-academic audiences in developing and demonstrating their research. The scheme offers grants of up to £2,000 for engagement activities.

In 2016, funded projects will be run either during the Bloomsbury Festival 19–23 October, or during the Being Human festival of the humanities 17–25 November, 2016. The theme for this year’s Being Human festival is ‘Hope and Fear’.

The 2016 call, with details on the awards and eligibility criteria, along with the application form, are available below.

Call for Participation, Information and Terms & Conditions [PDF]
Public Engagement Checklist [PDF]
Application Form [Word]

The next funding call will be released in early 2017.


Dr Michael Eades
Public Engagement Manager
T: +44 (0)20 7862 8693