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Arts & Humanities Research Institute

Arts & Humanities Festival 2017 theme: World | Service

The Arts & Humanities Festival in October 2017 will be on the theme of ‘World|Service’.

‘World’? ‘Service?’ Putting the two words together suggests many possible relationships between them. Come and help us work out what they are.

King’s College London’s mission has always been to serve society. It has become increasingly international, and focused on global challenges. A major challenge of our time is the pressure on the ethos of public service across the board. Education, health, broadcasting, and government are all seen as under threat from a combination of underfunding, commercialisation, and resentment of experts.

The World | Service Festival will articulate the value of the Arts & Humanities in terms both of international perspectives and service to the community. The theme is designed to foster events and activities taking the phrase in the broadest senses:

  • responding to global disalignments and realignments in the wake of the Syrian crisis, Brexit and the US election;
  • exploring the intellectual and ethical issues about public service and global ambitions and responsibilities across the public sphere;
  • being hospitable to key areas of research in the Faculty such as imperialism and post colonialism, area studies, literatures, languages, music, the study of cultures and religions, identity, and the impact of the World Wide Web on all these

The programme seeks to build on the College’s acquisition of Bush House, and the exemplary cultural capital it represents for the Arts & Humanities. Proposals exploring the rich history of the BBC World Service’s tenure, and its significant contribution to the ways in which the Arts and Humanities of all historical periods have been disseminated and analysed are of course also welcome.

Whether broadcasting to the Empire or the World, the Service propagated versions of Englishness and of other local, national cultural identities. In doing so, it drew in commentators, creative practitioners and intellectuals from all over the Empire and the world. It thus offers a lens through which to study cultural identities, migration, globalisation and multiculturalism. The BBC is an exemplary institution dedicated to public service it also offers a mirror to reflect upon the forms of public service represented by the modern university. How do universities maintain this public service focus in an era of rising fees, student surveys, the TEF, open access, online learning, widening participation, and internationalisation?

The Festival will be part of a larger two-year World Service project; an interdisciplinary programme including talks, performances, seminars, broadcasts, and conferences, running 2016 - 2018.


Max Saunders, Director, AHRI

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