Thursday, July 01, 2004

History research not just an indulgence

I like to be reassured that the public money (ie a junior lecturer level salary for my post-doc fellowship) I'm getting for three years to do my pet research project is more than a wasteful indulgence. Report stresses importance of the arts: 'study and training in the arts, humanities and social sciences provide the high-level skills required to sustain an increasingly knowledge-based society and economy, at a relatively low cost'.

The report has been published by the British Academy*; see their press release. I quote:

This Review demonstrates that the arts, humanities and the social sciences provide high-level skills and ground-breaking research essential to a knowledge-based economy. It also shows how the cultural, intellectual and social well-being of the UK depends on the nurturing of these branches of knowledge. And not least it asserts their complementary function within the spectrum of intellectual discovery. Studying human beings as creative individuals and as social creatures is crucial not only in its own right but is also crucial to the study by natural scientists of human beings in terms of their biology and physical environment. The central point is not simply that every branch of knowledge makes an important contribution to the whole, but rather that no branch of knowledge contributes effectively unless the others are granted the same recognition.

Link to the full report in either HTML or PDF format. I think I'd better read this! (I'll maybe post a longer article about it later.)

The Guardian article also reminds us that one of the less publicised elements in the controversial Higher Education bill (voting today in the House of Commons) is to make the Arts and Humanities Research Board into a full Research Council (the AHRB and the Economic and Social Research Council are the main funders of history postgrads in the UK, for readers outside Britain). Does that mean they actually get any more money though?

*The nice people who gave me the fellowship and pay the aforementioned salary. (OK, so they're not exactly disinterested observers.)

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