Creativity, culture, community – what Being Human is all about 

Thursday 25 October 2018

Wherever there are humans there is culture. And whether you gravitate to London’s South Bank or Strictly Come Dancing, there’s culture for everyone at this year’s Being Human festival with more than 250 free-to-attend public events on offer by more than 73 universities, research organisations and cultural and community groups in and around 50 towns and cities across the UK. 

It is the UK’s unique humanities festival, now in its fifth year, and this year the overall theme is Origins and Endings. Culture is one of its contributory strands (the others being Beliefs, Politics and protest; Science; and Technology), and this strand is full of amazing stories. They include the children taken from Dickensian streets to be given a stab at stability in London’s Foundling Hospital (still there), and the wonderful flavours and sounds of El Salvador migrants in their own Latin Village in Tottenham, north London. Here are our tasters: 

  • Stories from El Salvador – enjoy an afternoon of Spanish-language storytelling and Salvadoran food tasting, and learn about El Salvador's recent mining ban. The event, organised by the School of Advanced Study, is hosted by UK Latin Village, a Tottenham market undergoing its own struggles to preserve its cultural heritage (17 November, 12 midday to 2pm). [NB – this whole event is in Spanish].
  • Origin Stories: Migration - organised by the University of Liverpool and hosted by The Museum of Liverpool, it is a day of thinking and making - recording a sound installation, binding books, creating a collage - to investigate representations of migration in arts and culture (17 November, 10am–5pm).    
  • Ladies of Quality and Distinction: Foundling Museum Wikithon - join Birkbeck’s Wikipedia edit-a-thon and help them bring the overlooked stories of women and the Foundling Hospital to the fore (17 November, 1–4pm.     
  • From the Source to the Sea – organised by Newcastle University, this series of activities will follow the flow of the River Tyne exploring how it has shaped the cultures and communities of the North East. Expect everything from tunnel tours to events on windswept piers. There is even one exploring the history of bodies fished from the Tyne (15–24 November, various times).  

So November is a perfect time for everyone to ‘go to uni’, and for free. That time when the UK’s universities, research organisations, and cultural and community groups, demonstrate commitment to public engagement by opening their doors to share their innovative humanities research with the public.  

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 takes place from 15–24 November. Now embedded as the UK’s unique national celebration of the humanities, its reach is now global with related events in Australia, Singapore, Rome, Paris, and in Princeton University in the USA.  

Find out more about the festival at and follow the latest news on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest.  


  1. For further information, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653 /  
  2. Being Human: a festival of the humanities 15–24 November 2018  
    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.    
  3. 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 resources, facilities and academic opportunities across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. Last year SAS welcomed 786 research fellows and associates, held 2,007 events highlighting the latest research in the humanities, received 24.4 million online visits to its research resources and platforms, and hosted 194,145 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads Being Human, the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities. Find out more at or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews. 
  4. The Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funds world-class, independent researchers in a wide range of subjects: history, archaeology, digital content, philosophy, languages, design, heritage, area studies, 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 to the economic success of the UK but also to the culture and welfare of societies around the globe. Visit us at:, on Twitter at @ahrcpress, on Facebook at Arts and Humanities Research Council, or Instagram at @ahrcpress.
  5. The British Academy is the voice of the humanities and social sciences. The Academy is an independent fellowship of world-leading scholars and researchers; a funding body for research, nationally and internationally; and a forum for debate and engagement. For more information, please visit  or call 020 7969 5273. Follow the British Academy on Twitter @BritishAcademy_ 
  6. The University of London is a federal university and is one of the oldest, largest and most diverse universities in the UK. Established by Royal Charter in 1836, the university is recognised globally as a world leader in higher education. Its members are 18 self-governing institutions of outstanding reputation, and nine research institutes. Learn more about the University of London at