Friday 25 February 2022

‘His House to our Home’ led by The University of Sheffield for Being Human 2021

The School of Advanced Study’s (SAS) flagship public engagement project, the national Being Human festival, returns between 10 and 19 November with the theme ‘Breakthroughs’.

Run by SAS, with generous support from Research England, in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) and the British Academy (BA), the festival is all about demonstrating the ways in which humanities research is vital to society and why it is directly relevant to our everyday lives, concerns, interests and communities. It aims to break down barriers to research and share amazing ideas via creative, informal and interactive events and activities such as comedy nights, museum takeovers, walking tours, interactive performances and hands-on workshops.

Hundreds of events make up the programme, organised by humanities researchers at universities and research organisations across the UK, in partnership with cultural and community partners.

The 2021 festival saw 241 events and activities led by researchers from 64 universities and research organisations. They took place in 51 towns and cities, from Burnley to Bangor and included everything from a shopping centre pop-up in Lincoln exploring Caribbean culture and music, to a museum late exploring the cultural legacy of the Cop26 climate talks held in Glasgow.

The festival is now welcoming applications for 2022, and funding grants are available to enable public engagement events and activities! Read on for more information about this year’s theme.


In 2022 Being Human will be thinking about ‘breakthroughs’. Returning for its ninth year, the festival will continue to explore how the humanities enable us to interpret the past, understand the present and imagine the future. What breakthroughs can we imagine, rediscover, and celebrate through humanities research?

From breaking actual ground in archaeology to radical new thinking in literature and art; from socio-political breakthroughs and breakdowns (revolutions, rebellions and rebuildings) to religious revelations and epiphanies, humanities research is shaped by endless fascinating breakthroughs.

This year marks the centenary of several milestone breakthroughs, including the first BBC radio broadcast, the discovery of the tomb of Tutankhamun (a literal as well as figurative breakthrough), and the creation of the Irish Free State. There are darker centenaries as well, such as the century since Mussolini's fascists took power in Rome. It is also the 100th anniversary of two breakthrough publications of literary modernism in English, James Joyce’s Ulysses and T.S. Eliot’s The Waste Land. And it marks some far longer histories, including the 1900th anniversary of the building of Hadrian's Wall.

Breaking new ground

The festival is not only interested in historic breakthroughs, however. After more than two years of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are all acutely conscious of the importance of scientific and medical breakthroughs – while also trying to break through the social, cultural, economic and psychological barriers it has created.

From global healthcare to space exploration, many scientific and technological breakthroughs can transform the way we live, but the humanities help us to ask who benefits from such breakthroughs, and why?

Breakthroughs could also be considered through methods and formats of public engagement. Can we break through to new inclusive practices, or new experimental methods through this year’s festival? Can we make groundbreaking connections and partnerships that mark a collaborative step forward?

We invite researchers to explore the impact of breakthroughs – broadly conceived – in this year’s festival. Breaking new ground and breaking down barriers is at the heart of what Being Human is all about, and fundamentally we’re on the lookout for fun, creative and innovative activities that open the humanities for all to enjoy.

To find out more, please visit the Being Human website.