Beyond the digital humanities

On 5 May, the School of Advanced Study (SAS) is hosting ‘Beyond the Digital Humanities’, the final in a series of important events on the future of digital humanities organised by the European Science Foundation (ESF) research network NeDiMAH (Network for Digital Methods in the Arts and Humanities). It will be chaired by Professor Lorna Hughes (below left), SAS’s first chair in digital humanities and Professor Andrew Prescott from the University of Glasgow. Since May 2011, NeDiMAH has run a programme of activities and built a collaborative research forum to investigate the use of digital methods in arts and humanities research. The network has explored key areas of theory and practice in a number of methodological areas, including: the analysis of time and space, visualisation, linked data, large-scale data analysis, editing, manuscript imaging, temporal modeling and scholarly communications. The reach of these events has been documented in a series of maps of digital humanities activities across Europe. This has allowed the Network to get a sense of the diversity of practice as well as understand and demonstrate the collaborative and trans-national nature of digital humanities and the integration of digital approaches into all aspects of the research lifecycle. Our objective has been to understand better the impact that digital methods have had on transforming scholarship in the arts and humanities, and the potential for extending the benefits of digital research to the creative industries, industry and public policy and planning. Collaboration has been key. And this has ranged from working with scientific and technical disciplines, data science and libraries to archives and museums, existing European research infrastructures (including CLARIN and DARIAH in...

Rethinking the Senses (Public Engagement Case Study – Dr Merle Fairhurst)

To mark the launch of our call for applications for the first SAS/Senate House Library ‘Public Engagement Innovators Scheme’, we asked some staff from across the School about their experiences of public engagement and how it has influenced their research and professional practice. In this second post Dr Merle Fairhurst, research fellow in the Institute of Philosophy, answers our questions about her experiences engaging the public with research on the AHRC Rethinking the Senses project. Could you tell us a little bit about who you are and the research that you do/your role in SAS? As a research fellow on the AHRC Rethinking the Senses project at the Centre for the Study of the Senses (Institute of Philosophy), my central function is to use psychological and neuroimaging techniques to explore how we perceive the world through our various senses. I am particularly interested in the ways different streams of sensory information – say the sight and sound associated with someone speaking to you – are combined to create a unified experience. My work is complemented by dialogue and interaction with philosophers as we work together to investigate the ‘whys’ and ‘hows’ of multi-sensory perception. What public engagement activities have you been involved with in the School? The AHRC grant offers the chance and indeed promotes the sharing of our work with the general public and as such, we are always grateful for an opportunity to tell people about how our senses work together as well as highlight the philosophical relevance of empirical research. Our recent events have included talks in various venues, with two very exciting sessions as part of...

Open Access: free ‘from having to sell’

The economics of scholarly publishing are incredibly tangled. Even Harvard University cannot afford all the material that its researchers need to conduct their work. In this piece, Dr Martin Eve picks apart the histories and economics that have led to the open access movement, arguing that we need to move away from a purely market-driven sales approach for access to research. How did we get into the mess that is scholarly communication today? Our forebears spent a long time building the principles of freedom of inquiry into the university. One of the most crucial of these measures was that academics should not have to produce research that would sell. In fact, the choice was deliberately made to separate the selection of research topic from market populism because it is clear that the investigation of esoteric areas, selected by experts, can yield better results than financial incentives posing as democracy. The freedom from having to sell. These principles are, of course, perpetually under assault in the contemporary marketisation of higher education. However, a more long-standing problem comes in the form of subscription and sales publishing for academic research. While we gave researchers freedom to investigate wheresoever they felt there might be merit, we concurrently outsourced publication to entities that were reliant on the market for their income. With an explosion of research output in all disciplines (fuelled by assessment that prioritises research for accreditation) we now can’t afford to buy back the work that our colleagues produced and gave away, supposedly free from the market. Supply and demand. But, of course, we also now have the phenomenal technological feat of...

Hail fellow well met! Frédérique Woerther shares her experiences

Every year the School of Advanced Study (SAS) welcomes more than 800 research fellows and associates, this year Frédérique Woerther, an international expert in ancient Greek rhetorical theories and their Medieval Arabic interpretations, was one of them. By Frédérique Woerther The visiting fellowship and the chance to spend a month at the School of Advanced Study’s Warburg Institute, represented many opportunities for me. Not only would I meet with colleagues from universities such as Cambridge, Oxford, Warwick, Leeds and University College London, and to present my work to specialists in my field – Ancient Greek Rhetorical theories; Arabic commentaries on Aristotle – it meant being able to exchange ideas with, and receive criticism from some of the best academics in the world who reside and work in Great Britain. I was certain the benefit from their feedback would be invaluable when I go back to France to continue my research work at the National Centre for Scientific Research, the country’s largest government-run research organisation. Also the Warburg Institute offers resources for my research that are simply not available elsewhere and that might fundamentally alter the direction of my research. Moreover, for my research interests, the resources provided by the Institute for Classical Studies (IClS) library are second to none. This was particularly welcome, as I would like to start a new project in Ancient Greek Rhetoric and the IClS library, with its close collaboration with the Societies for the Promotion of Hellenic Studies and Roman Studies , is one of the best! During the Fellowship I was invited to deliver a series of public lectures on the latest developments in the...

My Time as an S.T. Lee Visiting Professorial Fellow

Earlier this year Dr. Lawrence A. Joseph, constitutional law expert and now President of Grenada’s Senate, joined the School of Advanced Study as ST Lee Visiting Fellow. In this guest post Dr. Joseph tells us more about himself and his time with us. Could you tell us a little about yourself? I am a barrister at law having been called to the bar of England and Wales by way of Lincoln’s Inn, Inns of Court School of Law in 1977. I returned to my homeland Grenada in 1978 engaged in private practice and was appointed a magistrate for the years 1979 to 1984. I was elected as President of the Grenada Senate for the years 1984 to 1988 and subsequently held several ministerial port folios including that of Attorney General and Minister for Legal Affairs. I was Speaker of the House of Representatives for the years 2003 to 2008 and again was elected President of the Senate for the second time in 2013. I am still President of the Senate. In 2006 as an external student, I obtained a Master of Laws (LLM) Degree in Criminology and Criminal Justice from the University of London. In 2009 I successfully completed a course in Legislative Drafting from the Institute of Advanced Legal Studies, University of London and in 2012 I successfully defended my thesis for the Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) Degree in Law from the said Institute of Advanced Legal Studies.   You were the S. T. Lee Visiting Fellow between the 4th of March and 7th April 2014, why did you decide to take up this fellowship and what did...

NZ Link Visiting Professor Anne Smith gives first lecture on early childhood education

In her inaugural lecture last week as the School’s NZ-UK Link Visiting Professor for 2013, Anne Smith outlined how New Zealand’s early childhood system became a model of best practice for the recognition of children’s rights in early childhood education. She also highlighted the threats posed by current fiscal policies to its ongoing integrity. The well-attended event attracted around 100 guests including representatives from Barnardos, Save the Children, the NSPCC, the National Children’s Bureau, and leading academics in child studies including Emeritus Professor Priscilla Alderson from the Institute of Education, Ted Melhuish from Birkbeck, Naomi Eisenstadt CB from the University of Oxford, and Alison Clark from the Open University. The UK Children’s Commissioner, Dr Maggie Atkinson, was also in attendance. Professor Ann Phoenix of the Thomas Coram Research Unit and Vicki Lant, Head of Children’s Centres at Barnardo’s, each gave a response to Anne’s paper.  The event, the first in a series of free public lectures by Anne, was hosted by Liesbeth de Block from the Social Science Research Unit at the Institute of Education and supported by Barnardos. It was chaired by Emeritus Professor Peter Moss, also of the Institute. Deputy High Commissioner Rob Taylor from the New Zealand High Commission introduced Professor Smith. Emeritus Professor Anne Smith, from the University of Otago’s College of Education, is a highly respected specialist in childhood studies and children’s rights. She has been involved in research, advocacy, and policy-making on childhood issues in New Zealand for almost 40 years. Representatives from think tanks and the voluntary sector included the Anna Freud Centre and SQW Consulting, which provides research, analysis and advice on sustainable economic and social development for public,...

This month at the Extreme Energy Initiative

Post by Helle Abelvik-Lawson We’ve had a busy May here at the Extreme Energy Initiative (a project of the Human Rights Consortium).  As well as formally launching and developing content for our dedicated project website, www.extremeenergy.org, our preliminary research has shown that many countries all over the world are currently being affected by extreme energy projects like tar sands and fracking for shale gas. One of our more recent blog posts outlines how Algeria is considering fracking, and has quietly amended their hydrocarbons law accordingly.  This is particularly interesting because the French Foreign Minister is likely to sign an agreement allowing French companies to conduct research in the exploitation of shale gas on Algerian territory, despite the fact that France was the first country to ban fracking domestically. Another news article we published is a review of a lecture by Dr James Hansen at the LSE on unconventional fuels and climate change.  The former NASA scientist was in London on May 16 to give evidence to the Commons Environmental Audit Committee. On May 20 we hosted an Australian Toxicology expert, Mariann Lloyd Smith for her lecture entitled ‘Licence to Drill: Is Australia’s Present Britain’s Future?’ which spoke about the chemicals used in fracking and drilling fluids and the effect they have on the health of adults and children living in nearby communities.  She also outlined a very successful social resistance method which is being used in Australia, called the Lock the Gate Alliance.  A podcast for this talk will be available on our website soon. The project is now looking very carefully at social resistance methods to industry-led research,...