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Being Human 2023 open for applications

The festival, led by the School of Advanced Study, returns to towns and cities across the UK from 9 to 18 November 2023, with the theme Rhyme or Reason.

Being Human Festival, the UK’s national festival of the humanities, is now welcoming applications from humanities researchers based in universities and independent research organisations to take part in this year’s festival by organising an event or project.

The festival offers dedicated funding grants for public engagement, and thanks to continued generous support from festival partners the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, festival funding has been increased for 2023, with grants of up to £8,000 available. Find out more about the different grants and pathways on the festival website. You can also sign up to the ‘Applying to Being Human 2023’ webinar taking place on Wednesday 15 March, 11:00-12:00, to find out more about the festival in 2023 and the application criteria.

Being Human is primarily a UK-based festival, but each year a small number of international events take place under the festival banner. If you are based outside of the UK and are interested in hosting Being Human activities, please visit the festival website to find out more.

What are we looking for?

The festival moves away from traditional academic formats of seminars and lectures and emphasises events that are fun, creative and accessible. All events must be rooted in academic research and should be designed to appeal to specific audiences without existing relationships to universities or research. To this end, researchers are encouraged to collaborate with community and cultural partners when designing and delivering their events.

Examples from previous festivals include: walking tours in the Scottish Highlands, a car show in Bradford city square, pottery workshops inspired by medieval tiles in Lincolnshire, storytelling and folk music in a London pub, book-binding workshops in Newcastle, and a family-friendly museum takeover in Sheffield featuring 17th century dancing, music, food and craft activities.

Why take part?

Organising a public engagement activity can be a challenge, but organisers typically find the process rewarding. The festival provides an opportunity to:

  • develop new skills in public engagement and events management
  • work with new cultural and community partners or develop existing relationships
  • raise visibility of research nationally and within your own institution
  • engage with new audiences and get refreshing new perspectives on your research
  • get a project up and running which might not otherwise happen
  • get public engagement advice and support that is not available at your own institution
  • develop networks and start collaborations with other researchers nationally
  • help to celebrate and demonstrate the importance of the humanities!

Rhyme or Reason

In a world of uncertainties, with constantly shifting realities and perspectives, how do we find inspiration, explanation, and meaning? Sometimes our ideas may come from 'rhyme' (intuition, inspiration, the poetic or artistic). Sometimes they may come from 'reason' (evidence, empiricism, the logical or calculated). Sometimes the most visionary work comes from rhyme and reason working together, in synergy; sometimes it may seem as if there is neither rhyme nor reason, and yet meaning is still created. Researchers are invited to think about rhyme or reason, or rhyme and reason, when developing their festival events and activities. Read more about this year’s theme.

Apply now

Find out more and apply to take part in this year’s festival

Apply now