"An outstanding investment in what really matters" says Academy President Lord Stern

17 Jul 2014

The humanities and social sciences “are an outstanding investment in what really matters in the future of the UK and the world more generally”, the British Academy’s President, Lord Stern, said yesterday (17 July 2014).

Speaking at its Annual General Meeting of Fellows , he said that the Academy’s two overarching goals were “fostering excellence, by providing the resources, time and space to generate new research”; and “putting the humanities and social sciences to work, showing what they can do... providing not only great intrinsic value in themselves, but overwhelming public value and utility”.

The British Academy Debates had highlighted the value of public events around the country where research and insights from our disciplines could illuminate some of today’s most difficult questions and toughest human and policy challenges. And the Academy’s recent multimedia project Prospering Wisely had provided powerful illustrations of how “a rounded understanding of prosperity, and indeed prosperity itself, is hugely dependent on the contributions of the humanities and social sciences.” 

Lord Stern added that it was also essential for those working in the humanities and social sciences to avoid “any kind of false competitiveness with science, technology, engineering and medicine. They are intertwined and mutually supportive” he said.

The national academies’ joint document, Fuelling Prosperity, “had made a powerful case to the Government for continued investment in all areas of academic research in order for the UK to keep pace with its international competitors.” The British Academy had also held joint events with the American Academy for Arts and Sciences on prosperity and the importance of ‘soft power’.

Finally Lord Stern paid tribute to departing Science and Universities Minister David Willetts both for maintaining ring-fenced flat cash allocations for science and research “at a time of major assault on all areas of public spending” and as ”a stout defender of the humanities and social sciences”.  He welcomed the new Minister, Greg Clark, and hoped that he would continue to recognise the vital importance of protecting research budgets.

The full speech can be read here.

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