"The 2020s will be the decade of the humanities and social sciences", says new British Academy President

24 Jul 2020

The British Academy today announces that Professor Julia Black CBE FBA will be its 31st President, succeeding the historian Professor Sir David Cannadine. Julia will become the second female President in the Academy’s 118-year history and will take up the role in July 2021 for a four-year term.

Elected to the Fellowship in 2015, Julia’s appointment as President caps off a long relationship with the Academy that began with the awarding of a joint British Academy-AHRC grant for her to pursue her DPhil in 1990-4. Since then, Julia has become one of the world’s foremost experts in the design, dynamics and legitimacy of regulatory systems, both state and non-state based. Julia was awarded a CBE for her services to the study of Law and Regulation in 2020. She is currently Strategic Director for Innovation at the London School of Economics and Political Science, an external member of the Prudential Regulation Committee at the Bank of England and an external member of the SONIA Oversight Committee. She was appointed to the Board of UK Research and Innovation in 2017. Julia is also a member of the Council for Science and Technology, which advises the Prime Minister on science and technology policy issues across government, and recently joined the Board of Governors of the Courtauld Institute of Art.

Responding to her election, which was confirmed at the Academy’s Annual General Meeting yesterday, Julia pledged to unlock the full potential of academics in the humanities and social sciences.

She said: “I hope that when my term ends, there will be more women and more people from ethnic minority backgrounds, in positions of influence in and around the Academy. We will build our community from the early-career researchers we fund through to our Fellows, and bake equality, diversity and inclusion into our strategy, goals, governance, and ways of working, developing an Academy that is accessible to people from all walks of life and at different stages in their career. In order to promote excellence, we need to ensure we are not missing out on pools of expertise that have been overlooked. This extends to diversity of subject areas, mindsets and views as well as backgrounds.”

“The Academy also has an important leadership role to play in addressing underrepresentation in our disciplines in the wider sector. By definition, we reflect the professoriate and so we have a vested interest in supporting talented researchers at all stages of their career.”

Meanwhile, the Academy has welcomed 86 new Fellows to its world-leading Fellowship: 52 to the UK Fellowship, 30 to the Corresponding (overseas) Fellowship, and four new Honorary Fellows. Of those elected this year to the UK Fellowship, 46% are women (around 25% of all UK professors are women) and their average age is 61 (the average age of the active UK Fellowship is 69).

Professor Julia Black FBA, President-elect of the British Academy, said:

“I am honoured and excited to become the British Academy’s next President and I look forward to working with the British Academy’s staff, its Fellowship and the researchers it funds. To take on a leadership role at this historic organisation, and to take over from Professor Sir David Cannadine, is an enormous privilege. David has been an exceptional President and steered the Academy through the seismic political, social and economic shifts – not least the pandemic – and it is testament to his judgement, ideas and hard work that the Academy has emerged from his term a more influential and more engaging organisation.

“The 2020s will be the decade that the humanities and social sciences reassert themselves on the national, and the global, stage. The last six months have highlighted just how vital these subjects are to the health, wellbeing and prosperity of the nation and to tackling grand challenges. Insights from anthropology, psychology, history and geography have helped us to fight the virus, while drama, literature, and language-learning – to name just a few pursuits – have provided much-needed distraction and stimulation for us all. With growing evidence about their employability, the narrative that paints these subjects as recreational or non-essential needs to be challenged, which is why I am advocating for the notion of Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy/Environment (SHAPE). As President, I want to take that further, harnessing the power of these subjects to shape a brighter and more prosperous future.”

Professor Sir David Cannadine, President of the British Academy, said:

“Julia Black is a wonderful choice for President of the British Academy. As well as being a brilliant academic lawyer, Julia has a high level of leadership experience from the London School of Economics, and networks across the research community. If anyone can make this the decade of the humanities and social sciences, then she can. I wish her every success in her new role.

"I would also like to extend my warmest wishes and heartiest congratulations to all those who have joined our Fellowship this week. This is a time to reflect on their many invaluable contributions to their discipline. It is also a time for celebration and I hope that, social distancing measures notwithstanding, they are able to do so in ways great or small."

Dame Minouche Shafik, Director of LSE, said:

“I am delighted that Professor Julia Black will become the next President of the British Academy. Julia will bring a wealth of experience, ideas and energy to the role. She believes passionately in the transformative power of the social sciences, the humanities and the arts and will be a tireless advocate for the ‘SHAPE’ subjects and those who pursue them. I look forward to her leadership of the British Academy.”

Full list of new UK, Corresponding and Honorary Fellows

UK Fellows

  • Anna Sapir Abulafia, University of Oxford
  • David Adger, Queen Mary University of London
  • Madawi Al-Rasheed, London School of Economics
  • Charles Baden-Fuller, City University
  • John Barclay, Durham University
  • Catherine Barnard, University of Cambridge
  • Ian Bateman, University of Exeter
  • Gurminder Bhambra, University of Sussex
  • Michael Billig, University of Loughborough
  • Sue Black, Lancaster University
  • Amy Bogaard, University of Oxford
  • Colin Burrow, University of Oxford
  • Martin Carver, University of York
  • Martin Clayton, Durham University
  • Ursula Coope, University of Oxford
  • Giancarlo Corsetti, University of Cambridge
  • Patrick Dunleavy, London School of Economics
  • Rebecca Earle, University of Warwick
  • Khaled Fahmy, University of Cambridge
  • Paul Fiddes, University of Oxford
  • Regenia Gagnier, University of Exeter
  • Mark Harrison, University of Warwick
  • Katherine Hawley, University of St Andrews
  • Richard Hyman, London School of Economics
  • Paula Jarzabkowski, City University
  • Judith Jesch, University of Nottingham
  • Stathis Kalyvas, University of Oxford
  • Daniel Karlin, University of Bristol
  • Kieran McEvoy, Queen’s University, Belfast
  • James Nazroo, University of Manchester
  • Polly O’Hanlon, University of Oxford
  • Andrew Pickles, King’s College London
  • Christopher Pinney, University College London
  • Sarah Radcliffe, University of Cambridge
  • Rick Rawlings, University College London
  • Nikolas Rose, King’s College London
  • Meg Russell, University College London
  • James Secord, University of Cambridge
  • Constantine Sedikides, University of Southampton
  • Simon Shepherd, Central School of Speech and Drama
  • Antonella Sorace, University of Edinburgh
  • Penny Summerfield, University of Manchester
  • Kathy Sylva, University of Oxford (Jesus College)
  • Rosalind Thomas, University of Oxford
  • Isabel Torres, Queen’s University Belfast
  • Elaine Unterhalter , University College London
  • Caroline van Eck, University of Cambridge
  • Essi Viding, University College London
  • Timothy Whitmarsh, University of Cambridge
  • Andreas Willi, University of Oxford
  • Clair Wills, University of Cambridge
  • Christopher Woolgar, University of Southampton

Corresponding Fellows (meaning those based overseas)

  • Elizabeth Anderson, University of Michigan
  • Nicole Bériou, Institut de Recherche et d’Histoire des Textes
  • Homi Bhabha, Harvard University
  • Bea Cantillon, University of Antwerp
  • Kathleen Coleman, Harvard University
  • Jonathan Culler, Cornell University
  • Anne Cutler, University of Western Sydney
  • Joan DeJean, University of Pennsylvania
  • Bénédicte Fauvarque-Cosson, Conseillère d’Etat
  • Amy Finkelstein, Massachusetts Institute of Technology
  • Rainer Forst, Goethe-University
  • Jan-Eric Gustafsson, University of Gothenburg
  • Alice Harris, University of Massachusetts-Amherst
  • Caroline Hoxby, Stanford University
  • Sheila Jasanoff, Harvard University
  • Geoffrey Jones, Harvard University
  • Thomas Kaufmann, University of Göttingen
  • Kristian Kristiansen, University of Gothenburg
  • Ngaire Naffine, University of Adelaide
  • Gülru Necipoğlu, Harvard University
  • Charles Nelson III, Harvard University
  • Jamie Peck, University of British Columbia
  • Susan Pedersen, University of Columbia
  • Thomas Piketty, Paris School of Economics; EHESS
  • Sheldon Pollock, Columbia University
  • Walter Powell, Stanford University
  • Frederick Schauer, University of Virginia Law School
  • David Shulman, University Jerusalem
  • Kathryn Sikkink, Harvard Kennedy School
  • Elliott Sober, University of Wisconsin-Madison

Honorary Fellows

  • Robin Jackson CBE, Former Chief Executive of the British Academy
  • Bridget Kendall MBE, Journalist, Diplomatic Correspondent, University of Cambridge
  • Mary Robinson, Adjunct Professor of Climate Justice and Former President of the Republic of Ireland, Trinity College Dublin
  • Gary Younge FAcSS, Professor of Sociology, University of Manchester
Contact the press office

For further information contact the Press Office on press@thebritishacademy.ac.uk  / 020 7969 5273 / 07500 010 432.

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