Early programme highlights revealed!

Being Human returns 10–19 November 2022, for the ninth edition of this nationwide festival. From the history of pioneering inventions to ground-breaking literature and art, this year’s festival will explore the theme ‘Breakthroughs’.

As part of the festival’s funding scheme, we are excited to have allocated 25 grants to researchers at universities and research organisations across the UK, made possible by generous support from our partners the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

Awards were made to those who showcased creative approaches to celebrating research in the humanities, and who demonstrated inspiring and innovative collaborations with a range of diverse communities and audiences. Read on for a taster of what there is to look forward to this November!

Festival Hubs

Being Human festival Hubs present programmes of events responding to the histories, cultures and communities of their local areas and are aimed at a variety of ages and interests. In addition to our previously announced BBC 100 Hub led by the University of Bradford, here’s a quick run through of the fantastic Hubs that will be popping up around the country in November:


Robert Gordon’s festival Hub programme will celebrate and raise awareness of women’s contribution to the history, culture and heritage of North-East Scotland, aided by the creation of a digital dictionary of ‘quines’ (Doric for woman). Activities will focus on debates about who should be commemorated – and how – and will include a hustings for the main contenders for commemoration; story-telling; play table readings; soundscapes of women’s voices from the North-East, and a virtual mosaic.


The Hwb Bangor programme, led by Bangor University, will explore the relationship between the population of North-West Wales and the environment which surrounds them, helping to break through barriers of understanding towards a better co-existence. With workshops, activities and events covering topics including archaeology, avant-garde art, creative writing, digital co-curation, museum objects, medical humanities, plant life and religion, Hwb Bangor will encourage co-creation and self-reflection both informed by and enhancing innovative new research in the arts and humanities.

Close up shot of a pink flower
Close up shot of a flower in Treborth Botanical Garden. The garden will host festival workshops led by Bangor University this November.

Northumbria University’s Hub programme will celebrate two treasures of the North East and their major landmarks in 2022; the return of the Lindisfarne Gospels, the most spectacular surviving Anglo-Saxon manuscript, and 1900 years since construction began on Hadrian’s Wall, the preeminent monument of Roman Britain. This series of festival events and activities will explore how we can use the Gospels and the Wall as tools for asking fundamental questions about humanity, and for thinking about what breakthroughs look and feel like today.

Page with Chi Rho monogram from the Gospel of Matthew in the Lindisfarne Gospels, inspiration for some of Northumbria University's Being Human activities

‘Breaking Books’ serves as the inspiration for the University of Dundee’s 2022 Hub programme. Books nourished us during the pandemic, and as timeless artifacts they record the greatest of human breakthroughs. But reading can be ableist, and books prohibitively expensive. This series of events will liberate stories from the gutters of the comic strip, bring Angus folklore out of the confines of history books, celebrate the female trailblazers of Science Fiction, and return tales of terror and wonder to the mouths of the narrators. Everyone has a story to tell, even if they don’t know it yet!


Wolverhampton’s ‘Positively Disruptive’ programme will offer activities that together act as a catalyst for imagining new, vibrant futures for humanity and the humanities. From care robots and immersive queer theatre to neuro-literary experimentation, Wolverhampton showcases its exciting research to break through socio-cultural, technological and mental barriers to ask how, in a time when living and thinking are radically changing, we can remain human.

Across the country

Other funded activities across the country include hands-on workshops, creative writing ‘walk-shops’, performances, debates, installations and exhibitions, all exploring a wide range of humanities research. In Southport, an interactive art and science exhibition will showcase research from Edge Hill university into historic ‘Ganzflicker’ techniques and the history of visual illusions. In London, The National Archives will delve into LGBTQ+ history, using the 1921 census as a lens into queer life stories from 100 years ago. In the Scottish Highlands, a series of events will mark the 260th anniversary of James Macpherson’s Ossianic poetry. In Cumbria, audiences will be invited to follow in the footsteps of American inventor Benjamin Franklin, inspired by his visit to the Lake District in 1772. In Swansea, a series of artist and researcher-led workshops will look at breakthrough women from across industrial South Wales and will use their stories to create a set of handmade banners. And in East Anglia, a special museum late at the Sainsbury Centre will look at afrofuturism and ancient Egypt.

View down Derwent Water towards Keswick in the early morning with low lying cloud
Derwent Water, Keswick. American Inventor, Benjamin Franklin, visited the site in 1772.

More to come

Hundreds of free events will take place as part of the festival this November, all celebrating research in fun and creative ways. You can expect to see a range of digital and in person events in the festival — keep an eye out for the full programme announcement at the beginning of October!

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