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Announcing our 2020 festival hubs

In times of crisis, do we really need the humanities? Being Human festival is back to demonstrate the many ways in which we do.

Returning between 12–22 November Being Human is back for its seventh year! Our theme this year is ‘New Worlds’ – perfectly timed to reflect on the radical global changes of 2020, from the Covid-19 pandemic to the Black Lives Matter protests and the most important US election in decades. Being Human is a free multi-city festival with hundreds of free, public events showcasing how humanities researchers work every day on issues that shape the world that we live in. At this year’s festival you can expect to see a range of online events as well as socially distanced face-to-face activities including... a drop-in repair shop exploring recycling, waste and sustainability, a feminist ‘rap battle’ based on ancient Mesopotamian texts, carnival of counter-tourism" exploring gentrification and a sensorial artwork recreating weather conditions of the past and future. Professor Sarah Churchwell, festival director, said:

Being Human celebrates the humanities and the many ways in which they help us to understand the world around us. In a year marked by an extraordinary pandemic and unprecedented global quarantine, political turmoil, and one of the most important elections in American history, we are all depending on the humanities more than ever to help us confront our challenges, resolve our differences, and find better ways of being human.

Festival hubs

This year our four festival hubs will be in Derby, Glasgow, Sheffield and Swansea. Innovative series of events will invite visitors to...


Look again at Derbyshire’s rich heritage as a global industrial powerhouse via a series of online events celebrating the history of one of the UK’s most overlooked areas. The University of Derby's hub programme is rooted in partnerships with museums, archives and schools, and will include digital illustrated talks, ‘draw-along’s, public performances and ‘citizen curating’ of some of Derby Museum’s most sensitive collections. 


Channel the Glaswegian spirit for invention and reinvention in a series of events led by the University of Glasgow reflecting on the past and future of the city, including an invitation to write a ‘poetic national constitution’ and an opportunity to delve into research on cultures of empire at the Hunterian Museum.


Ask ‘What kind of world is possible?’ at The University of Sheffield’s ‘People’s Palace of Possibility’ led by theatre and interactive arts company The Bare Project. The headline event of its series invites festival-goers to look at the everyday world with fresh eyes, viewing it through the lens of a diverse range of innovative humanities research.


Reflect on old worlds versus new worlds and new beginnings through politics, VR, wellbeing, human connectivity and creativity in a programme led by Swansea University, including banner-making inspired by the collections at the South Wales Miners’ Library and the creation of a Welsh ‘post-pandemic manifesto’ by local school pupils.