Demonstrating the Impact and Value of Arts and Humanities Research Outside Academia
Identifying opportunities for research funders and universities
A panel discussion was held as global experts shared how they define impact and advocate for the value of arts and humanities research.
In many countries there are discussions over the value of humanities education. In comparison with STEM subjects, there is a smaller proportion of funding available for arts and humanities, and it is reducing further.
In higher education this has manifested in declining enrolment in programmes, departmental cuts, and suspension of courses. In policy development at a national and regional level this is reflected by the marginalisation of arts and humanities.
In this on-demand webinar, the panelist explores the unique set of challenges that make it difficult to measure, track and report on the impact of arts and humanities funded research.
“For all of its importance, however, scholarly research in the humanities does not usually make the front pages of newspapers, and while research in the natural and social sciences can often have direct and immediate relevance to public policy, applications for humanities research tend to be less obvious and less specific. As a result, the humanities can be overlooked in the competition for funding.”
– American Academy of Arts & Sciences
Hear from a distinguished panel of experts from the UK, US, and Canada.
Dr Laura McKenzie
Dr Laura McKenzie is a cross-sector researcher and strategy consultant, working primarily in the social impact space. After completing a PhD in English Literature at Durham University in 2018, she was awarded an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellowship to fund a project investigating Durham’s literary heritage in support of a prospective bid for UNESCO City of Literature status. In 2020 she managed the Vital North Partnership, a strategic partnership between Newcastle University and Seven Stories, the National Centre for Children’s Books, where she leveraged research, skills, and expertise from within both organisations to help them achieve strategic, impact-led goals. In 2021 she was awarded an AHRC R&D Fellowship at Zinc VC, where she mobilised Arts & Humanities research knowledge and methods within early-stage innovation to maximise impact and create applied solutions to complex societal problems.
Laura is currently working with Zinc VC, Mosey Digital, The Liminal Space, Newcastle University, and the Kolvin Service, an adolescent forensic mental health service provided by the NHS. This work spans research consultancy, impact acceleration, ecosystem and partnership building, and arts intervention design and delivery. She is passionate about supporting the flow of people and ideas between academic Arts and Humanities research and industry, particularly within R&D and Innovation. Laura has held Visiting Fellowships at the Harry Ransom Center (Austin, TX) and Harvard University.
Dr Rachel Carey
Dr Rachel Carey is a behavioural scientist with a background in health psychology. Following completion of her PhD at NUI Galway, Rachel took up a post at University College London in 2014, where she worked on the Theories and Techniques of Behaviour Change Project. In 2016, she joined Bupa’s UK clinical team as Senior Behaviour Change Research Advisor, where she led a collaborative programme of work with UCL. Over the last five years, as Zinc’s Chief Scientist, Rachel has built a growing, interdisciplinary R&D team who work with startup founders and academics to create new, scalable innovations to tackle important societal challenges. In 2020, Rachel was awarded a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, supporting her work to scale-up Zinc’s R&D activities. The ambition with this work is to create a connected R&D system for the social and behavioural sciences, mobilising talent and knowledge across sectors to accelerate impact on important problems. Rachel also has an honorary role at UCL, is an Associate of the UCL Centre for Behaviour Change, and a Sciana Health Leaders Network Fellow.
Dr Paul Yachnin
Paul Yachnin, Tomlinson Professor of Shakespeare Studies at McGill University, has published widely on early modern literature and culture. His ideas about the social life of art were featured on the CBC Radio IDEAS series, “The Origins of the Modern Public.” He publishes non-academic essays about Shakespeare and modern life, including titles such as “Alzheimer’s Disease: What would Shakespeare Do?” and “Tragedy as a Way of Life.” For the past ten years, he has been working on higher education practice and policy. He was lead author of the White Paper on the Future of the PhD in the Humanities. He recently wrapped up TRaCE McGill, which tracked the career pathways of more than 4,500 PhD grads from across all the faculties at McGill and told the stories of more than 100 of them; he is presently leading an international PhD tracking and story-telling project called TRaCE Transborder.
Dr Jennifer Richards
Jennifer Richards is Joseph Cowen Chair of English Literature at Newcastle University. She is the Co-Director (with Dr Philippa Page, Modern Languages) of the Newcastle University Humanities Research Institute. She is also the Chair of The English Association’s HE Committee. She is an early modern literary scholar. As well as a General Editor of the forthcoming Works of Thomas Nashe for Oxford University Press, she is the PI of an interdisciplinary project funded by The Leverhulme Trust, Bee-ing Human, working with digital humanists, musicologists, bio-environmental scientists and software engineers.
Dr Michael Jacobson
Michael Jacobson, Ph.D. serves as the Executive Director of the Office of Strategic Research Initiatives in Binghamton University’s Division of Research. In this role, he oversees research development activities related to large external proposals. He also advises faculty on research impact planning as part of their research proposals. His interest in research impacts is an outgrowth of his experience in outreach and community engagement activities related to his archaeological research. Michael previously served as a principal investigator at Binghamton University’s Public Archaeology Facility directing cultural resource management projects and aiding in strategies for historic preservation. His specific research focus is on the archaeology of conflict and landscape analysis. As part of this research, he developed collaborations with various descendant communities and other stakeholders. Michael has published articles on strategies for community-engaged research. He also has expertise in digital humanities. Michael holds a doctorate and MA in anthropology from Binghamton University and a BA in anthropology from Fort Lewis College in Colorado.
Dr Julianne Pigott
Julianne is Head of Strategy, Impact and Engagement at the Arts and Humanities Research Council, part of UK Research and Innovation, the largest funder in the UK research ecosystem. Her team leads on a range of stakeholder engagement, evaluation and strategy development activities, ensuring that AHRC captures, understands and promotes the benefits and impacts of the research that it supports. She previously worked as an arts and humanities impact facilitator at the University of Cambridge, having completed a PhD in medieval history at the university.
Amanda helps clients think in new creative ways. An innovation specialist whose work bridges the worlds of creative development, audience engagement and social change, Amanda has more than 12 years’ experience in designing and delivering tools, formats, products and programmes for both public and private sector clients – from Apple to the V&A. Trained as a designer and with a background in consumer insight, Amanda is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Arts, a member of The Courvoisier Future 500 and a mentor at Year Here.