A new 'hothouse' for the arts, humanities and social sciences

05 Oct 2012 09:01:00.000


What makes a good society and why do the arts, humanities and social sciences matter? Writer, broadcaster and sociologist Professor Laurie Taylor will be addressing these questions when he officially launches the Centre for Advanced Studies (CAS) at The University of Nottingham next week.

The Centre has been established in a stunning, newly-extended and refurbished campus building as a hub of research excellence to help academics and students make internationally significant and pioneering contributions to the ways in which social, cultural, economic and political life is understood and practised.

Much of this new research is cross-disciplinary ranging from the shedding of new light on regional history to the role of the humanities in healthcare as well as the creative economy including pervasive digital media and moving image research. CAS also actively promotes public engagement outside academia in the arts and social sciences.

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Two famous radio voices

A three-day programme of events will mark the launch of CAS from Wednesday 10 October to Friday 12 October 2012 at the new Highfield House building on University Park. Actor and writer, Tim Bentinck who plays David in BBC Radio 4’s The Archers, and who is the 12th Earl of Portland, will give a reading from the University-curated Portland family archive collection after the culminating keynote speech by Professor Laurie Taylor on Friday evening.

Professor Taylor is a well-known advocate and ambassador for the arts and social sciences. He said: “Anyone who doubts the need for research in the humanities and social sciences only has to think for a moment about the critical questions which currently preoccupy all those with an urgent concern about the future of our society; questions about the changing nature of work, about the impact upon our daily lives of developments in the digital landscape, about issues of urban development and residential segregation, changes in leisure pursuits and tourism, issues of environmental sustainability and ways of increasing happiness and wellbeing.

"It is a testament to the value of the Centre for Advanced Studies at The University of Nottingham that all of these research matters (and others) feature in its current inventory of active research. I greatly look forward to celebrating this when I visit on October 12th.”

Global challenge for the arts

Director of CAS, Professor Pat Thomson, added: “At a time when society both nationally and globally faces major challenges, the arts and social sciences make particularly important contributions to knowledge and to the quality and scope of public discussion. CAS fulfils its mission by providing administrative support and funding generation as well as practical help and strategic planning for research, public engagement and the forging of new partnerships.”

The Centre for Advanced Studies in the Arts and Social Sciences (CAS) includes the former Humanities and Social Sciences Research Centre team and is directed by an Executive Committee which includes an academic Director, the Deans of Arts, Social Sciences and the Graduate School, and the Research Manager.

Examples of work that the Centre is already undertaking include:

  • The Children and Childhood Network — combining the knowledge and skills of 100 leading academics from 24 different Schools, Departments and Institutes at the University. This work is pioneering new thinking in all aspects of childhood, adolescence and young adulthood, informing policy-makers and professionals in education, health and social welfare.  
  • The Raleigh Project — a three year collaborative research project on the history and social impact of the celebrated Nottingham bicycle brand. This includes archive research, an oral history programme, public lectures and film screenings, community theatre involving the ex-Raleigh workforce. The project will culminate in the production of a digital archive.
  • Partnerships with Broadway Media Centre and Nottingham Contemporary involving special events, exhibitions, screening and lectures to engage external audiences in research. A recent example is Café Philosophique which brings together cinema and philosophical debate.
  • New research into the University’s extensive Manuscripts and Special Collections Archive including the Wollaton Manuscripts and the Portland Collection. A recent outcome was the installation of a digital kiosk in Wollaton Parish Church where visitors can view a rare and ancient medieval service book, the Wollaton Antiphonal, and hear some of the medieval chants sung hundreds of years ago.

Other events during the three day celebration of the work and aspirations of CAS include panel sessions on ‘Socially responsible science’, ‘The Role of Art in Good Society’, academic lectures and presentations of current and future research projects.

A full schedule of events is available here: 


Story credits

More information is available from Sally Bowden, CAS Research Development Manager, on +44(0)115 951 4593, sally.bowden@nottingham.ac.uk

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