The past twelve months have brought enormous challenges across the globe. The impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, have been world-changing and are from over. Whilst we continue to live through a moment of unprecedented challenge, strain, and change, however, one thing is clear for many people: whatever follows on from Covid-19 must, if nothing else, be an opportunity to do things differently. Whether in relation to our political systems, the cities in which we live, the ways in which we work and spend our leisure time, or our relationship with the planet and the natural world, the current historical moment offers an opportunity to rethink, to do things differently, to renew. In 2020 Being Human festival imagined ‘New Worlds’. In 2021 it is time to renew our sense of Being Human.

New ideas, new approaches, new responses

This year’s Being Human festival will focus on ‘renewal’. Across the humanities we are interested in new ideas, new generations, new ways of doing things, new responses. This year sees a new president take office in America; Britain and Europe embark on a new relationship; and the COP26 Climate Conference in Glasgow will focus the attention of the world on finding new solutions to the climate emergency and ways to address it, from renewable energy to a renewed social contract between humans and the world that they inhabit. Cityscapes are being renewed, with monuments and public history being interrogated and interpreted in new ways. Different ways of living are being considered, different identities are being explored. The pandemic has pushed people all over the world to invent new ways of being social, being professional, and being human. Of course, ‘renewals’ don’t have to be only contemporary. Renewals can also revisit past times of change or disruption, discoveries that altered our world, or renewing our ideas about the past. They can be about breakthroughs in art, literature, film. They can be moments in which national cultures and identities were reconsidered, reimagined, realigned.

Interested in taking part?

Across all the disciplines of the humanities, we are keen to support projects that help us think of ways of renewing approaches to:

  • health
  • faith
  • work and play
  • identity
  • climate

These are just starting points to get you thinking though. Surprise us! The main thing that we are looking for are projects that help us to demonstrate why the humanities are relevant to people’s lives and how they help us understand what it means to be human. The call for applications will open soon!