A fresh vision for arts and humanities research

Loom weaving textiles

All that it is to be human, from contemporary challenges to future possibilities, is what arts and humanities research is about, which is why it’s so thrilling!

Human beings are endowed with immense curiosity about themselves and their world, and a huge capacity for expressing the wonder and joy, the frustration and pain that life can bring.

Aerial view of Stonehenge

Aerial view of Stonehenge (credit: cineman69/GettyImages)

We have been thinking, exploring, describing and creating our world for tens of thousands of years.

For the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), every moment in this journey is in scope of our work.

We study what it is to be human, and by investigating the conditions of and the obstacles to flourishing as a human, we contribute to a greater understanding of how to make a better future.

As we develop our role within UK Research and Innovation alongside and in collaboration with our colleagues across all fields of research, we have evolved a new vision to:

  • capture some of the richness of what we do
  • help us evaluate our success
  • develop new frontiers of research.

Discovering our world

Discovering our world (AHRC website) starts from our fundamental curiosity and the vitality of research.

Mykaell Riley

Mykaell Riley, principal investigator at the Westminster School of Arts, University of Westminster, on the AHRC-funded Bass Culture.

We believe in supporting the best ideas and the best people, wherever they are to be found.

Excellent research in arts and humanities can be found across the world, and our funding supports projects and teams from the whole range of our subjects from:

  • dance to theology
  • history to languages
  • law to music.

We cannot fail therefore to engage profoundly with contemporary challenges.

We believe that the arts and humanities have a vital role to play in tackling the problems of our time, from:

Making the most of our resources

Inside the British Museum, London

Inside the British Museum, London (credit: Viktor Forgacs on Unsplash)

One of our greatest resources is the world-class museums and galleries.

We will continue to support as a core part of a mission the integration of these extraordinary collections into our research, and bring our research to increase their accessibility to all, and the richness of interpretation.

Our research faces the challenges of the world and uses the full range of resources from texts to objects to performance to meet them head on. And the outcomes deserve to be shared widely and creatively.

Our investment in the cultural economy has led both to a marvellous diversity of expression, from fresh new writing to performance, film and media, and to a major expansion of research and development in the UK’s burgeoning creative industries.

These industries have adapted rapidly to the changed conditions of the pandemic and along with other art and humanities research, helped us to survive (YouTube).

Video credit: AHRC
On-screen captions and an autogenerated transcript is available on YouTube.

We are committed to building on success (PDF, 2.2MB) and helping these industries contribute to the strengthening of the economy, across the whole of the UK and for the benefit of all.

And as more and more people engage with our research they will share in the creation of our next questions, ideas and challenges for research.

A world for everyone

There should be no barriers to the joy of discovering our world.

We are committed to promoting the values of equality, diversity and inclusion (AHRC website), and playing our own part.

We will continue to invest in skills for the future, and we passionately believe in the contribution arts and humanities education makes to a successful economy and society.

Research in Film Awards 2019

Life on the Move, winners of the social media short award at the Research in Film Awards 2019 (credit: AHRC)

This is a vision which enables research, embodies our commitment to a broad and inclusive research community, and will drive our assessment of our own success, and help us to do better.

I see this as the beginning of a conversation, an invitation to everyone who cares about our place in the world to join us on this journey of discovery.

Bring us your ideas and passion, and let’s work together to imagine a just, prosperous, resilient and innovative future.

Top image: Credit: toos/GettyImages

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