UCL Grand Challenges


Enquiry on the Case for the Humanities

An academic enquiry considering, and setting out to articulate and celebrate, the value of the Humanities.

A cartoon image of a man with a key infront of a number of keyholes

5 October 2020


Grant: Ad hoc funded project
Year awarded: 2020-21
Amount awarded: £3,000


  • Prof Maurice Biriotti, Applied Humanities
  • Prof Lee Grieveson, SELCS
  • Dr Julia Jordan, English
  • Prof Nicola Miller, Institute of Advanced Studies
  • Prof James Wilson, Philosophy

The UCL Enquiry on the Case for the Humanities set out to articulate and celebrate the value of the Humanities. The Enquiry placed its emphasis on asking questions: it is not an official inquiry or inquest, nor a process designed to come up with a specific, single answer. It is, instead, a thoughtful search for insights, with those involved in the Enquiry set the task of examining and expressing the vital role of the Humanities in a rapidly changing world. 

The Enquiry gathered reflections and insights from more than fifty academics drawn from all of UCL's faculties, and did so without being driven by any particular economic, political, or institutional agenda. Taking an inclusive approach, the Enquiry invited colleagues from across all UCL disciplines to question and consider, rather than to define or adjudicate.

A series of discussions was structured around five themes, each reflecting a different aspect of the Humanities’ contribution: Arts, Education, Economy, Sciences, and Politics. Together, these thematic groups provided an organising principle for the Enquiry’s preliminary investigation and the findings of each group is included as appendices in the Enquiry's preliminary findings. 

Outputs and Impact

  • Report: An Enquiry on the Case for the Humanities: Preliminary Findings