Press Release

Broadening the Debate: How the Humanities & Social Sciences Can Help Us Address Global Challenges


The British Academy for the Humanities and Social Sciences hosts a series of events with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

LONDON, ENGLAND 12 JUNE 2014The British Academy is hosting a series of events in partnership with the American Academy of Arts & Sciences on 23 and 24 June 2014, which will highlight the vital need for humanities and social sciences research and expertise for international influence and security. The events will examine the important role that the humanities and social sciences play in understanding and addressing global challenges, and how these disciplines enrich our lives.

The American Academy of Arts & Sciences’ visit will conclude with a public panel discussion on the evening of Tuesday 24 June on Global Power, Influence, and Perception in the 21st Century, chaired by Bridget Kendall, the BBC’s Diplomatic Correspondent, and featuring:

     • Karl W. Eikenberry (former U.S. Ambassador to Afghanistan and retired U.S. Army Lieutenant        General; Member, American Academy Commission on the Humanities & Social Sciences);
     • Professor Sir Adam Roberts (Senior Research Fellow of the Centre for International Studies,        University of Oxford); and
     • Sir Martin Davidson (Chief Executive of the British Council).

Over the two days, the British Academy will host conferences addressing topics such as “promoting opportunity through education” and “why a coordinated approach to humanities & social sciences matters”. There will also be a roundtable discussion about language education held in partnership with The Guardian.

This year the British Academy released Prospering Wisely, a multimedia publication and series of events aimed at kick-starting a national conversation about the place of humanities and social science research in British society. Just under a year ago, the American Academy released The Heart of the Matter, a report and companion film examining the need for humanities and social sciences in a vibrant, economically competitive, and secure nation.

The reports garnered widespread attention and inspired international debate. These events will provide the opportunity for leading academics from both academies to further explore how the humanities and social sciences can inform conversations on globally important issues and influence the development of policies to address them.

Lord Stern of Brentford, President of the British Academy, said: “The major problems that we currently face require attention from both the physical sciences and from the social sciences and humanities. Each are vital drivers of human progress. As these events will demonstrate, the humanities and social sciences provide rigorous scrutiny and insight. They allow the ideas and long-term thinking which profoundly influence our social welfare and the culture that lies at the heart of our well-being. They help us understand identity, community, collaboration, and conflict.  In a modern economy driven by knowledge and innovation, the humanities and social sciences determine our place and reputation in the world.”

Don Randel, Chairman of the Board of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, said: “Independently, our academies have been working to inspire greater support for the humanities and social sciences as disciplines vital to our respective nations. This joint conference gives us an opportunity to explore these topics together and, for the first time, to speak with a unified voice about the importance of humanistic pursuits to a well-functioning society.”

Leading the delegation from the American Academy are:

     • Hunter R. Rawlings III, President of the Association of American Universities;
     • Diane P. Wood, Chief Justice of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit; and
     • Pauline Yu, President of the American Council of Learned Societies.

They will be joined by a series of leading figures from the UK, including:

     • Professor Jonathan Bate, Vice-President (Humanities), British Academy
     • Baroness Tessa Blackstone, Chair of the British Library
     • Professor Nigel Thrift, Fellow of the British Academy and Vice-Chancellor at the University of        Warwick

Through the attention given to Prospering Wisely, The Heart of the Matter and these joint British Academy and American Academy of Arts and Sciences events, both academies aim to help policy makers understand the vital role that all research disciplines have to play in informing the general public and those making important policy decisions.

For further information, interview requests or to attend any of the events, please contact:

The American Academy
Felicia Knight
+1 (207) 831 5676

British Academy
Kate Rosser Frost
020 7969 5263

Notes to editors:

The American Academy of Arts and Sciences
Since its founding in 1780, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences has served the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge. As one of the nation’s oldest learned societies and independent policy research centers, the Academy convenes leaders from the academic, business, and government sectors to address critical challenges facing our global society. Through studies, publications, and programs on Science, Engineering, and Technology; Global Security and Energy; the Humanities, Arts, and Education; and American Institutions and the Public Good, the Academy provides authoritative and nonpartisan policy advice to decision-makers in government, academia, and the private sector. Follow the American Academy on Twitter @americanacad

The British Academy is the UK’s national champion of the humanities and social sciences. As a Fellowship of distinguished scholars and researchers from all areas of the humanities and social sciences, it promotes these disciplines and facilitates the exchange of knowledge and ideas. It funds research across the UK and internationally, and seeks to raise understanding of some of the biggest challenges of our time through policy reports, forums, conferences, publications and public events. For more information, please visit Follow the British Academy on Twitter @britac_news.




Commission on the Humanities and Social Sciences

Richard H. Brodhead and John W. Rowe