Being Human 2017 expands into a global 'Lost and Found'

Monday 26 June 2017

Being Human 2017 - Lost and Found

Free historical re-enactments and walks, workshops, tastings, performance and talks 

Being Human (17–25 November), the UK’s only national festival of the humanities, has gone global. It has expanded its reach in 2017 to include new events in Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University, the University of Melbourne and the University of London Institute in Paris. 

The international activities will join the core of more than 100 funded events to be announced by the organisers, the University of London's School of Advanced Study, on 26 June. Many more are planned, and all will respond to the theme of ‘Lost and Found’. Topics range from explorations of slave routes and suffragettes to prehistoric food tasting and wrestling matches. 

The 2017 festival includes hubs in Glasgow, Dundee, Belfast, Nottingham and Swansea, and rich themes are already emerging, like Musical Memories. This taps into the UK's amazing musical heritage with events like ‘Bass in the attic’ from the University of Westminster / Black Music Research Unit, Westminster School of Media, Arts and Design. With involvement from London soul legend Jazzie B, ‘Bass in the attic’ focuses on black British music and sound system culture, and will uncover and re-value hidden memorabilia – reconnecting individuals and families to their musical heritage.

Other innovative events include ‘The Imaginarium: a fantastical showcase for the arts and sciences’, an invitation from researchers at the University of Dundee to join them in a unique expo of outrageous thought experiments brought to life. How does one extract a rainbow from a cucumber? How useful is a person’s faeces as an indicator of their criminal extent? What is the Google brain doing to our imagination?, are just some of the questions they’ll be asking.

In Manchester, there will be ‘Sleep: lost and found’, a day of activities examining the causes and consequences of sleep loss, organised by the University of Manchester. Families will learn how to sleep better by comparing their sleep behaviours with the bedrooms and bedtime routines of their ancestors, and by speaking to experts

During the nine-day festival, which is supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy, some of the best and brightest minds in humanities research will share their work with new audiences in inventive, creative and fun ways. Free public events will be held in unusual venues, museums, galleries, cultural and community centres across the UK and further afield.  

‘The quality of applications this year was extremely high,’ said festival director Professor Sarah Churchwell. ‘We are delighted with the array of events on offer, and it is exciting to see specialist researchers and general audiences meeting in such creative and productive ways all around the country, from Belfast to Dundee, from Swansea to Norwich, and all points in between. Humanities research in the UK can literally offer something for everyone.’

British Academy chief executive Alun Evans said: ‘The British Academy and Being Human both exist to champion the humanities: to celebrate how research can enrich our everyday lives and help us understand the world around us. We are delighted to support this year’s festival and look forward to sharing exciting ideas with audiences across the country and worldwide.’

Professor Andrew Thompson, chief executive of the Arts and Humanities Research Council, said: ‘Being Human has quickly established itself as vibrant part of the festivals landscape and it’s great to see the diversity of the events on offer this year. The festival reflects the extraordinary range of work undertaken in the humanities as well as the genuine excitement the research emerging from the humanities can generate among a wider public. The AHRC is proud to be supporting the Being Human Festival especially at a time when the value of the humanities needs to be vigorously asserted.’

A reception announcing the 2017 grant winners will be held on 26 June (6pm), at Senate House. Journalists interested in attending should contact / +44 (0)20 7862 8859. 


Notes to Editors 

  1. Find out more about the festival at and on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest
  2. For all enquiries, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations OfficerSAS, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8859 
  3. Being Human: a festival of the humanities 17–25 November 2017 
    Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research. The festival will highlight the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives.  
  4. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2015-16, SAS: welcomed 786 research fellows and associates; held 2,007 research dissemination events; received 24.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at or on Twitter at @SASNews.
  5. The Arts and Humanities Research Council  (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: ancient history, modern dance, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, English literature, design, the creative and performing arts, and much more. This financial year the AHRC will spend approximately £98m to fund research and postgraduate training in collaboration with a number of partners. The quality and range of research supported by this investment of public funds not only provides social and cultural benefits but also contributes to the economic success of the UK. Follow the AHRC on Twitter at and Facebook
  6. The British Academy for the humanities and social sciences. Established by Royal Charter in 1902. Its purpose is to inspire and support high achievement in the humanities and social sciences throughout the UK and internationally, and to promote their public value. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.