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School of Advanced Study celebrates 30 years of supporting the humanities

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The School marked the occasion with a celebratory event attended by the University’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal. 

The School of Advanced Study (SAS) is celebrating 30 years of supporting, promoting and advocating for the humanities in the UK. 

The anniversary was marked with a celebratory event held at Senate House on Wednesday 12 June, which was attended by the University’s Chancellor, HRH The Princess Royal. 

The event featured an exhibition that explored key milestones in the School’s 30 year history and a reception with representatives from a selection of the School’s current projects and initiatives. These included the Institute libraries, the Refugee Law Clinic, the University of London Press, the Digital Humanities Research Hub and the Being Human Festival.  

SAS research and engagement was also on display, with representatives from the Centre for the Study of the Senses, the Victory County HistoryLayers of LondonBeyond Notability and Cultivate MSS

Speaking at the event, Professor Jo Fox, Dean of the School of Advanced Study, commended the School on its contribution to sustaining the arts and humanities over the past 30 years, and highlighted the important role that the humanities will play in addressing the various challenges we face in the modern world. 

She said, “The world has changed a great deal since the School was formed in 1994 […] And while our world may be more connected than ever before, it is also a more divided, more fraught, and in many ways, a more precarious one. 

 “A critical, creative, and human approach is not only valuable in addressing [these] global challenges – it is indispensable. The humanities offer not only diagnoses, but increasingly we offer solutions. We see this every day in the research we support across the UK.” 

 During the event, the Chancellor met with staff from across the School and discussed their achievements and future endeavours. In her remarks at the close of the event, she congratulated SAS on its 30th anniversary and commended the staff on their dedication to its mission.  

30 years of supporting the humanities

Founded in August 1994 as a federation of nine of the University of London's research institutes in the humanities, SAS was created to facilitate advanced study in the humanities for the benefit of the national scholarly community, and to act as a catalyst for individual and collaborative research in the United Kingdom and beyond.

Over the last thirty years, SAS has expanded this role and delivered a wide-ranging programme of research promotion and facilitation that has supported generations of researchers. Through the provision of key resources, research training and pioneering programmes of public engagement and digital innovation, the School has established itself as a vital component of the national infrastructure for humanities research in the UK. 

The School planted a cherry tree in Woburn Square to mark the 30th anniversary. Materials from the anniversary exhibition, including a timeline of the School’s 30 year history, will be on display on the second floor of Senate House for the rest of the year. 

The Chancellor meets the researchers behind Beyond Notability and Cultivate MSS
The Chancellor meets the researchers behind Beyond Notability and Cultivate MSS.
The School’s innovative digital initiatives on display.
The School’s innovative digital initiatives on display.
Professor Barry Smith explains the work of the Centre for the Study of the Senses
Professor Barry Smith explains the work of the Centre for the Study of the Senses.
The Chancellor congratulates the School on its 30th anniversary.
The Chancellor congratulates the School on its 30th anniversary.

Looking to the future

The anniversary provides an opportunity not only to reflect on the School’s achievements so far, but also to look to the future.  

In January 2024, Research England reconfirmed the School's special funding status and backed an ambitious new strategy for SAS, including the establishment of a flagship Digital Humanities Institute and a major advocacy programme that will make the case for the value of the humanities with a wide range of stakeholders and with the public.  

Through these bold new initiatives, SAS will build on the successes of the past thirty years and strengthen its support for the national humanities community. 

Professor Fox said, “We will continue to champion and provide a home for groundbreaking research, strengthen our local and international partnerships, widen participation across our disciplines, and further the cause of humanities to understand ourselves and each other.  

“In doing so we will equip future generations with the skills to answer the most pressing issues of today and tomorrow.”