Being Human Festival

12–22 November 2020

The 2020 Faculty of Arts international hub invites you to discover the thrill of Being Human with a series of fun and interactive events.

Inspired by this year’s festival theme ‘New Worlds’, there are a range of online activities to explore: lose yourself in an immersive audio experience; contemplate the beauty of the natural world through guided meditations; discuss fascinating cultural artefacts at the Being Human Cafes; and bring your ancient-world wits to the Melbourne Classics Quiz.

What's on


Dean’s Forum

Episode 5: Sarah Churchwell and Russell Goulbourne

Revealing the ‘invisible’ Humanities with Being Human Festival Director Sarah Churchwell

The Humanities can help us to understand so many aspects of this year’s crises – from the politics of fluctuating global COVID-19 statistics to the histories of plagues and pandemics past. The Humanities shape every major challenge of our time, and yet often remain on the sideline to the sciences in the public consciousness. So how do we advocate for a transformation in the public understanding of the ‘invisible’ Humanities?

Professor Sarah Churchwell holds the Chair in Public Understanding of the Humanities at the University of London and has some extraordinary insights to share on this topic. In this Dean’s Forum, Professor Churchwell sits down with Professor Russell Goulbourne to tackle the task of defining the Humanities and the need for Humanities scholars to communicate their work to non-specialist audiences. Professor Churchwell is the Director of the Being Human Festival, which the Faculty of Arts is participating in for the third time this November. She shares her perspective on the Festival’s ethos of getting Humanities research ‘out of the ivory tower’ and into the community.

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Looking deeply: what we gain from taking a moment to observe

Having worked in museums and galleries around the world and as an art history lecturer, Dr Olivia Meehan is now the Object-based Learning Coordinator at the Faculty of Arts. We caught up with her to ask her all about object-based learning, and to find out more about her upcoming event for the Being Human Festival.

Object-based learning (OBL) involves using specimens, objects, works of art, models and diagrams in the classroom. In the Faculty of Arts, I collaborate with colleagues to design curriculum that engages directly with material culture and knowledge. OBL is an embedded part of learning for those studying anything within the Bachelor of Arts, from languages, criminology, sociology and geography to classics and archaeology, and art history.

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Thomas Goff Lupton,(engraver), J.M.W. Turner (artist), 'From the Long Ships' Lighthouse, Land's End', (n.d)
Thomas Goff Lupton (engraver), J.M.W. Turner (artist), 'From the Long Ships’ Lighthouse, Land’s End' Nd, mezzotint, Baillieu Library Print Collection, the University of Melbourne. Gift of Dr J. Orde Poynton 1959, 1959.3444.000.000.
Being Human Festival

About Being Human Festival

The Being Human festival is the first and only national festival of the humanities in the UK. Founded in 2014, the festival demonstrates the breadth, diversity and vitality of the humanities, and that research in the humanities is vital for the cultural, intellectual, political and social life. It is a successful large-scale, national public engagement festival taking academic research out into all corners of the community providing refreshing new perspectives on research. It is supported by the School of Advanced Study at the University of London in partnership with the Arts and Humanities Research Council and the British Academy.

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