Researchers and public explore what it means to be human

Swansea University’s Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH) has been chosen as one of five hubs for Being Human 2015, the UK’s only national festival of the humanities.

‘Heritage, Health and Happiness’ involves an exploration of wellbeing and heritage through public-facing activities (debate, poetry, dramatic performance, art and enterprise) at a variety of venues including the Hafod-Morfa Copperworks, Clyne Farm Centre, the National Waterfront Museum and the University’s Singleton campus and has been made possible by a grant from the festival organisers, the School of Advanced Study, University of London.

Now in its second year, Being Human is supported by the Arts & Humanities Research Council (AHRC), and the British Academy (BA) with support from the Wellcome Trust.

300 x 121Following a successful application, Swansea University has been awarded funding to hold the event during the festival week, 12 – 22 November.

As a hub, Swansea University will not only be coordinating festival activities but will be putting forward Professor Peter Stead as its regional ambassador to champion the festival. Amongst his many roles, Peter Stead is a writer and broadcaster; founder and President of the International Dylan Thomas Prize; founding Trustee of National Theatre Wales; and President of the Friends of the Glynn Vivian Art Gallery.

‘Heritage, Health and Happiness’ will champion the excellence of humanities research being undertaken in South West Wales and help to demonstrate the vitality and relevance of this today. Forty-one grants have been awarded to universities and cultural organisations across the UK to participate in the 11 days of Being Human.

The grant will help the university bring together researchers and local communities to engage with the humanities. ‘Heritage, Health and Happiness’ will be part of an 11 day national programme of big ideas, big debates and engaging activities for all ages. The festival will inform, extend and ignite contemporary thinking and imagination around the humanities.

Being human drawingDr Elaine Canning, Deputy Director of the Research Institute for Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, said:

“We are delighted to be hosting a festival hub as part of Being Human 2015 and wish to thank the festival organisers for giving us this exciting opportunity to bring our research into the community.

‘Heritage, Health and Happiness’ will provide meaningful ways for us to engage with the public and encourage a re-evaluation of the importance of wellbeing and the heritage of our region. The general public and schools will be able to participate in a wide range of activities including drama, art and poetry sessions and competitions at a variety of venues across the city”.

During the inaugural festival in 2014 over 60 universities and cultural organisations organised over 160 free events sharing the best and most challenging thinking in the humanities with audiences across the country. Extending beyond face-to-face interactions in the UK, the festival crossed borders on the web, reaching more than 2.2 million across Twitter and website visitors from around the globe.

‌The 2015 festival programme promises to be exciting, entertaining and thought-provoking, with something for everyone in our diverse communities.

Being Human: a festival of the humanities 12-22 November 2015
Led by the School of Advanced Study, University of London, in partnership with the Arts & Humanities Research Council and the British Academy, Being Human is a national forum for public engagement with humanities research.

The festival will highlight the ways in which the humanities can inspire and enrich our everyday lives, help us to understand ourselves, our relationships with others, and the challenges we face in a changing world, and foster world-class knowledge that is vibrant, vital, and accessible to all.

For more information, please visit or follow the festival on Twitter at @BeingHumanFest

Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH)
The Research Institute for Arts and Humanities (RIAH), in the College of Arts and Humanities at Swansea University, brings together academics, postgraduates and visiting national and international scholars to create a rich and vibrant research environment geared to international excellence and impact.