British Academy awards £500,000 to humanities and social sciences researchers to improve understanding of pandemic

15 Jul 2020

The British Academy today awards 56 Special Research Grants to a range of humanities and social sciences research projects tackling critical questions raised by the global COVID-19 pandemic.

The British Academy’s Special Research Grants (COVID-19) scheme, funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy and Wellcome, will support researchers at 40 institutions across every region of the UK, in addition to two independent researchers.

The funding scheme aims to address the health, social, economic and cultural dimensions of the global health crisis by supporting excellence in humanities and social sciences scholarship. Projects supported by this scheme include:

  • Staying home, connecting care: Infrastructures and experiences of home care and voluntary support given and received at home during the UK COVID-19 lockdown and beyondDr Rosie Read, Principal Lecturer in Sociology and Social Anthropology, Bournemouth University
  • LGBTQ* UK COVID-19 Lockdown Researching Young Adult Experiences Vulnerability and Resilience Over TimeDr Fiona Tasker, Reader in Psychology, Birkbeck University of London and former British Academy Small Research Grant award-holder
  • Developing effective communication about a global pandemic in a multilingual space: Language choice and language use in COVID-19 campaigns in GhanaProfessor Paul Kerswill FBA, Professor, Department of Language and Linguistic Science, University of York
  • The Impact of COVID-19 on BAME Owned Businesses in the UK - Dr Tolu Olarewaju, Lecturer in Economics, Staffordshire University, Staffordshire Business School
  • The Nexus Between Social Capital and the Burden of COVID-19 in the United KingdomDr Adegbola Ojo, Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at the University of Lincoln and former British Academy Skills Innovator award-holder

View the full list of awards.

The scheme is modelled on the British Academy’s Small Research Grants scheme, a crucial source of support for scholars which enables early career researchers to leverage in other forms of funding and supports established researchers to test ‘proof of concept’ ideas.

Professor Simon Swain, Vice-President of the British Academy (Research and HE Policy), said:

“The breadth and depth of the topics covered in the compelling humanities and social sciences research funded today will have an enormous impact on how we understand and respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”

“We are extremely grateful to BEIS and Wellcome for their timely support for this funding scheme, which is modelled on one of the British Academy’s most successful and over-subscribed schemes. These small grants will help more researchers to grasp a crucial opportunity to enhance our understanding of health and wellbeing in its wider context – drawing on insights into communities and care provision, racial inequality, urban infrastructures, globalisation and trade, education and youth and many more areas.”

The Special Research Grants (COVID-19) are part-funded by a Wellcome grant of £4 million towards research into human and animal health and wellbeing over seven years.

The British Academy will continue to play an active role championing the role of the humanities and social sciences in informing the response to the global COVID-19 pandemic through its Shape the Future policy programme, devised by the Academy with contributions from its funded researchers and Fellowship of world-leading experts in the humanities and social sciences.

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