Does it matter? ‘Impact’ and the question of value in arts and humanities research

Friday 25th of June

10am - 12pm 

Professor Eleonora Belfiore, Loughborough University


About the Presenter

Eleonora Belfiore is Professor of Communication and Media Studies and Co-Director of the Centre for Research in Communication and Culture at Loughborough University, UK. She has published extensively on cultural politics and policy, and particularly the place that notions of the ‘social impacts’ of the arts have had in British cultural policy discourses. She was Co-Director of Studies of the Warwick Commission on the Future of Cultural Value (2013-5), and co-author of its final report, Enriching Britain: Culture, creativity and growth, published in February 2015. For Palgrave, she edits the book series New Directions in Cultural Policy Research, and she is Co-Editor in Chief journal Cultural Trends. Eleonora is developing new research on the labour conditions of socially engaged arts practice supported by a British Academy/Leverhulme grant. 

About the Session

The arts and humanities are under pressure once again to prove their ‘worth’ within the contemporary academy, in a post-pandemic reality of shrinking resources, closing down of entire university departments and threat of redundancies up and down the UK (and the situation is not much rosier elsewhere). In a context in which the value of a degree is calculated on the basis of the earning potential it offers graduates, and in which the ‘impact’ of research becomes a proxy for its ‘value’ in higher education policy discourse, do the arts and humanities matter? How do we even begin answering this question in a way that will convince sceptics and politicians? While no easy answers are available for these questions, the so-called ‘impact agenda’ offers important opportunities for critical self-reflection, for us as arts and humanities scholars, around the nature and purpose of research: What is the ultimate purpose of critical scholarly research? Or in other words, what comes after critique? 

Learning Outcomes

By the end of this session, participants will:

  • be able to reflect critically on their own position as scholars in contemporary academia, and the expectations, pressures but also opportunities that are open to them;
  • think critically but constructively about the impact agenda;
  • gain awareness of the sense of purpose that guides their research agenda and ideas on how to articulate it to a non-specialist audience.

Who might be interested?

This masterclass is intended for students from any arts and humanities discipline, and while the issues covered might be most pressing for students nearing completion, they will be relevant for doctoral students at all stages.

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First published: 20 May 2021