Shadows of people on a hill

The Global Humanities Initiative

Every problem in contemporary life has a human dimension.

Research in arts, humanities and social sciences gives us new insights into all aspects of individual and collective life – it is central to any genuine understanding of contemporary society.

Our research is fundamental to understanding contemporary life.

Professor Mike Braddick, global Humanities Initiative director

Human behaviour, individual and collective, is at the heart of every global problem, from the workings of the global economy, to our interaction with the environment, or the pursuit of individual happiness and social cohesion.

Uniquely, researchers in these disciplines work with the human imagination, exploring how people have, or do, imagine the world differently through literature, philosophy and the arts, and how that can help us to shape a better future.

Our researchers shine a light on individuals and whole societies; on the self-understanding of individual and groups; and on the external factors that shape them, as well as the interaction between the two. This research also uncovers how history and personal experience shapes individual and collective lives, how it sets limits and creates possibilities.

By working along these three axes – individual to collective, internal to external, and from past to present and future – and by using artefacts, data and the products of the human imagination, we can better understand shared challenges and contemporary life.

Our research: major questions and themes