Professor Barry Smith announced as Leadership Fellow for the AHRC's theme of Science and Culture

Monday 26 November 2012

Professor Barry Smith, Director of the Institute of Philosophy at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, has been announced as the AHRC's Leadership Fellow for the theme of Science and Culture.

Identified through the Future Directions consultation in 2009, the AHRC's themes provide a funding focus for emerging areas of interest to arts and humanities researchers.  These Leadership Fellows will provide intellectual and strategic leadership for the further development of the themes and will work closely with senior AHRC Programmes staff to develop partnerships within and beyond academia.

Professor Mark Llewellyn, Director of the Research at the AHRC, said: ‘The appointment of Theme Leadership Fellows and the current call for the large theme grants make clear our investment in approaches that help cut across disciplinary remits, new research agendas in order to answer some of the big questions of our time. We're really looking forward to working with Andrew and Barry over the next few years as they lead on different kinds of engagements between researchers and users, and work with current and future award holders in stimulating new debates and contexts for arts and humanities perspectives.'

The ‘Science in Culture’ theme aims to develop the reciprocal relationship between science disciplines and the arts and humanities. The sciences and the arts and humanities often seek to answer very different kinds of questions about human nature, the nature of the world we live in as well as the relationship between the two. Sometimes, however, the questions we seek to answer do not neatly fall within the remit of one or the other. Arts and humanities research can help us answer questions such as:

• What are the nature, value and scope of scientific research?
• What roles do culture, imagination, argumentation, creativity, discovery and curiosity play in scientific enquiry?
• How might the arts and humanities engage with the sciences as systems of knowledge from the perspective of their cultural context, development and impact?
• How might such interaction enhance public engagement and educational approaches, and inform policy debates?

Professor Barry Smith said: “The AHRC’s Science in Culture Theme offers a great opportunity for real integration of research in the arts and humanities into large-scale scientific projects.”

Professor Smith went on to say, “One example of Science in Culture could be neurobiology, these days, anyone with an interest in emotion, imagination, memory, or the basis of decision-making and cooperation needs to know something about recent findings in that area.  The way these findings bear on our conceptions of human experience is opening up the possibility of exciting new areas of research, such as those already taking place in musicology and the visual arts. And it’s increasingly clear that researchers in the arts and humanities are playing a role, not just as critics and commentators, but as genuine contributors to joint research with their colleagues in the sciences. I look forward to working with the AHRC to bring this about.”

1. For further information please contact Dee Burn at the School of Advanced Study at or +44 (0)20 7862 8670.

2. The Institute of Philosophy (IP) was founded in 2005, building upon and developing the work of the Philosophy Programme from 1995–2005. The Institute’s mission is to promote and support philosophy of the highest quality in all its forms, both inside and outside the University, and across the UK. Its activities divide into three kinds: events, fellowships and research facilitation.

3. Professor Barry C. Smith, from the School of Philosophy at Birkbeck, was appointed as Director of the Institute of Philosophy on September 1 2008. His main work is in the philosophy of language and mind; he is particularly interested in knowledge of language and its relation to other aspects of the mind. He has also published on the emotions, the perception of taste and on self-knowledge.

4. The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is the UK’s national centre for the facilitation and promotion of research in the humanities and social sciences. The School brings together the specialised scholarship and resources of 10 prestigious research institutes to offer academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. The member institutes of the School are the Institutes of Advanced Legal Studies, Classical Studies, Commonwealth Studies, English Studies, Germanic & Romance Studies, Historical Research, Musical Research, Philosophy, Study of the Americas, and The Warburg Institute.