History UK statement on RHS LGBT+ Histories and Historians report

History UK welcomes the publication of the new RHS report on LGBT+ Histories and Historians, and fully endorses its recommendations.

This is the fourth report on equality and inequality in UK History, and it highlights instances of discrimination that are just as shocking. A significant number of LGBT+ historians do not feel safe or comfortable in academic spaces. Others have experienced clear and persistent harassment, including threats to safety. These are not only issues of mental health and wellbeing, but also have significant implications for individual career progression, and prevent the development of diverse and inclusive working environments that benefit history as a discipline.

Just as efforts to decolonise the academy cannot be limited to the diversification of reading lists on modules, so we need to embed diverse identities into curriculum and practice. Efforts towards equality and inclusion must include promoting LGBT+ historians and LGBT+ histories as integral to efforts. This effort requires commitment from History staff at all levels, and particularly from programme leads and line managers. The report emphasises that we need to work together to provide institutional support, and is particularly effective in showing the positive steps that non-LGBT+ historians should undertake to demonstrate allyship. History departments, and institutions as a whole, need to have conversations about this – but more than this, we need to take action.

This action needs to take place at the institutional and at the individual levels. Inclusive policies need to be embedded at institutional levels. Access to gender-inclusive spaces and provisions for gender recognition are essential, and dependent on senior leaders showing clear commitment to LGBT+ equality and inclusion. Some of the structural barriers may be out of the control of individual historians, but the report highlights ways that we can all work to make our communities more inclusive (for example, around use of correct pronouns). Ensuring that all individuals are not only able to recognise discriminatory behaviour, but that they are aware of institutional reporting systems, makes it much more likely that individuals will feel able to tackle such behaviour when it occurs, and use those reporting systems.

The recommendations are essential reading. The RHS has also compiled a series of useful online resources that historians can use in their own teaching, and to foster good practice within their institutions. This practical support in tackling discrimination and in bolstering pedagogical diversity and inclusivity will be one of the most helpful elements of the RHS’ work in this area.

It is clear that history is important for understanding the historically-rooted structures and belief systems that shape the ongoing exclusion of LGBT+ people from many spaces in society today. The rich bodies of LGBT+ and queer historical scholarship produced in previous decades should be fully integrated into teaching and research programmes at all levels. This is not only a matter of tackling discrimination, but of enriching historical knowledge. It will ensure that current and future LGBT+ students recognise themselves and their own experiences in the histories they are taught, and feel fully supported and encouraged to flourish within the university environment – with incalculable long-term benefits to the profession and the discipline.

History UK

28 September 2020

History UK statement of support for historians working in higher education

History UK stands in solidarity with all historians working in higher education and calls for recognition of the important work undertaken in History departments across the sector. More so now than ever. The implications of recent government decisions on this year’s A-Level examinations results are divisive and yet to be fully understood. The coming months are likely to be uncertain and stressful for many of us as we strive to support new students as they transition to university-level study, and help all students manage a new learning experience.

We support the Royal Historical Society’s message to students to explore the full range of History programmes, and their recognition that there are first-rate degree programmes and highly satisfied students across the sector. We recognise, however, that the implications of recent government decisions, particularly the lifting of the cap on university places in England, is a cause of considerable anxiety for many historians and History departments.

Historians across different types of institution have long raised concerns about unmanageable and unsustainable workloads. Many now fear that additional student numbers at some universities, combined with cuts to precariously employed staff and the additional demands of online and physically distanced teaching, will lead to significantly increased workloads. The burden of this additional labour may fall disproportionately on junior, female, and BAME colleagues. Those who have already lost their jobs may not necessarily be re-employed. There are historians in departments across the sector who are committed to their students, who will welcome new starters and go above and beyond to ensure they have the best experience possible. But this is potentially accompanied by a substantial cost for individual physical and mental health.

History UK is most concerned by fears among historians for their jobs and the sustainability of post-1992 universities in particular. These fears are compounded by broader attempts to dismiss the value of History in the national media and among certain think tanks. Yet, as we wrote earlier this year following the decision of the University of Sunderland to close programmes in History, the study of history has never been more important for the health of our civic culture and sense of national self-understanding. Historians across all kinds of institution not only inspire students, broaden horizons, and shape highly employable graduates, but also produce world-leading research, much of which is rooted in engagement with local communities.

It is essential that historians challenge these narratives and call for History—indeed all Humanities subjects—to be protected in any government bailout or support package. We may not all be affected equally, but the diversity and inclusivity of the discipline as a whole will suffer if we do not stand together.

History UK co-convenors (Yolana Pringle, Lucie Matthews-Jones, Jamie Wood)

19 August 2020

History UK signs A New Deal for UK Higher Education letter to ministers for education

Along with 47 other subject associations, History UK has just signed a letter to ministers with responsibility for higher education at Westminster and the devolved governments. It calls for a ‘new deal’ for higher education across the nations of the UK. You can read the full text of the letter below. Please share more widely on social media. A pdf of the full letter can be downloaded here.
Dear Ministers,

We are writing to you as officers of 48 professional associations representing diverse research fields to express our profound concern about the future of higher education in the UK. COVID-19 has simultaneously highlighted the huge importance of university research to tackling the virus and its social and economic implications as well as the unsustainability of the current funding model for tertiary education.

Higher education makes a fundamentally significant contribution to society. It expands our knowledge and understanding of the world through an array of research discoveries, improves the life chances of individuals by enhancing social mobility and opportunities, advances the economy by carrying out innovative research, and provides each new generation with cultural knowledge as well as cutting edge skills and expertise. Yet, currently, UK public spending on tertiary education amounts to only a quarter of university budgets, which is not only the lowest among OECD countries, but comprises considerably less than half of the average spending among the OECD’s other 34 countries. It is therefore not surprising that nearly 25 percent of all UK universities were in deficit even before the pandemic and that now, due to a dramatic drop in projected income, almost all higher education institutions in the country will face huge obstacles to carry out their mission and remain internationally competitive without government support.

A vibrant and robust higher education system is absolutely vital for the UK’s future. We believe that the current government funding model for higher education is inadequate for this task and we therefore call upon you to use the current crisis as an opportunity to create a new deal for higher education. Rather than providing a one-time bailout, it is paramount that the UK and devolved governments substantially increases public spending on tertiary education in line with the OECD average in order to ensure that our tertiary institutions remain at the forefront of global research, education and innovation.

Yours sincerely,

African Studies Association of the United Kingdom – Professor Ambreena Manji

Architectural Humanities Research Association — Professor Jonathan Hale

Arts and Humanities Alliance — Professor Susan Bruce

Association for Art History — Professor Frances Fowle

Association for German Studies — Professor Margaret Littler

Association for Welsh Writing in English — Professors Kirsti Bohata and Matthew Jarvis

Association for the Study of Literature and Environment, UK and Ireland — Dr John Miller

Association of Hispanists of Great Britain and Ireland — Professor Claire Taylor

Association of Programmes in Translation and Interpreting Studies — Dr JC Penet and Dr Olga Castro

Association for Publishing Education — Professor Claire Squires

Association of University Professors and Heads of French — Professor Marion Schmid

British Association for American Studies — Dr Cara Rodway

British Association for Cognitive Neuroscience — Professor Jamie Ward

British Association for Slavonic & East European Studies — Dr Matthias Neumann

British Association for South Asian Studies — Professor Patricia Jeffery

British Association for Study of Religions – Professor Bettina Schmidt

British Association for Victorian Studies — Professor Dinah Birch CBE

British Association of Academic Phoneticians – Professor Jane Stuart-Smith

British Association of Critical Legal Scholars — Professor Adam Gearey

British Association of Film, Television and Screen Studies — Dr James Leggott

British Comparative Literature Association – Professor Susan Bassnett

British International Studies Association — Professor Mark Webber

British Philosophical Association — Professor Fiona Macpherson, FRSE, MAE

British Society for Middle Eastern Studies — Professor Haleh Afshar

British Society for the History of Science — Drr Tim Boon

British Sociological Association — Professor Susan Halford

British Universities Industrial Relations Association —  Professor Tony Dobbins

Council of University Classical Departments — Professor Helen Lovatt

Economic History Society – Professor Catherine Schenk

English Association — Dr Rebecca Fisher

Feminist Studies Association — Dr Laura Clancy and Dr Sara De Benedictis,

History UK — Dr Lucinda Matthews-Jones, Dr Yolana Pringle and Dr Jamie Wood

Linguistics Association of Great Britain — Professor Caroline Heycock

Media, Communication and Cultural Studies Association — Professor Anita Biressi

Modern Humanities Research Association – Dr Barbara Burns

Newcomen Society – Dr Jonathan Aylen

Oral History Society – Professor John Gabriel

Royal Musical Association – Professor Simon McVeigh

Royal Society of Literature — Professor Marina Warner, DBE, CBE, FBA

Socio-Legal Studies Association — Professor Rosie Harding

Society for French Studies — Professor Judith Still

Society for Latin American Studies — Professor Patience Schell

Society for Old Testament Study — Dr Walter Houston

Society for Renaissance Studies — Professor Richard Wistreich

Society for the History of Alchemy and Chemistry – Professor Frank James

Standing Conference of University Drama Departments – Professor Kate Newey

Theatre & Performance Research Association – Professor Roberta Mock

University Council of Modern Languages — Professor Claire Gorrara

Women in German Studies — Professor Ingrid Sharp

History UK in 2018

This post outlines some of the activities of History UK in 2018 and is based on a message that was sent out to subscribing institutions. We thought that it might be of broader interest!

History UK is the independent national body promoting and monitoring History in UK Higher Education. It is funded by history departments or their equivalents and campaigns on issues of concern to academic historians and the broader history community, particularly in the following areas:

  • The profile of history in higher education and beyond
  • The state of the profession, particularly the recruitment and career development of undergraduates, postgraduates, researchers and staff
  • Research culture, including the research resources available to historians and the impact of the REF
  • Teaching and learning within the discipline, especially the impact of the NSS and TEF
  • Audit culture, to ensure that the demands of external audit and quality measurement are appropriate to the discipline and light in touch.

For example, some of the events that we have organised in the last year include:

  • our Plenary and AGM in November on The Future of the Humanities, which brought together Professor Stefan Collini (Cambridge) and Dr Karen Salt (Nottingham), as well as a round table of younger scholars – Sara Barker (Leeds), James Baker (Sussex) and Sihong Lin (Manchester);
  • in May, one of our co-convenors, Jamie Wood, hosted an event at the University of Lincoln with the British Library Labs, to explore the use of the BL’s digital collections in teaching and research;
  • in May, we also ran our third academic job bootcamp, in which both early career historians and PhD students participatedand which helped at least one attendee secure a job;
  • in May, we supported a workshop for school and university teachers onTransitioning in History from School to Universityat Leeds Beckett University;
  • in September, our education officer, Peter D’Sena, ran the third New to Teaching Workshop(co-funded by the Royal Historical Society), exploring themes including digital history, lecturing, small group teaching, curriculum design and career development;
  • in September, our research officer, Neil Fleming, together with our co-convener, Lucie Matthews-Jones, organised a Research Grant Workshopwith input from the AHRC and the British Academy, as well as a range of speakers who have held grants.

July also saw the culmination of a year-long partnership with The National Archives on collaborative working between the higher education and archive sectors. This resulted in the publication of a guide to collaborationand a workshopat the TNA. In 2019 we are continuing our close working relationship with the TNA and are co-sponsoring a series of workshops(at the IHR, Liverpool, Cardiff, Bristol, Leeds, Colchester and Birmingham – sign up here) that further explore (and seek to develop) partnerships between higher education, especially History, and archives, whether in teaching, research or other kinds of activity.

We have also continued to develop close working ties with a number of organisations. For example, we have run combined events with the Royal Historical Society, History Lab and History Lab Plus, and HUK representatives attend meetings and speak at events of these bodies. Through our education officer, and other steering committee members, we have close links with the HEA and Historical Association. We are also members of the Arts and Humanities Alliance.

We hope this goes some way to demonstrating what your support of History UK enables us to do. The coming year promises to be just as exciting as last. Our twitter feed (@history_uk) and website (https://www.history-uk.ac.uk)both publicise our  events, but also act as a forum for members to feedback and even blog on their experiences of our events or on other important HE issues.

Ultimately we work for our members, and you have a say through your representative on the steering committee, or (if you do not currently have a representative) by directly contacting the co-convenors, Dr. Lucie Matthews-Jones (L.M.Matthews-Jones@ljmu.ac.uk) or Dr. Jamie Wood (jwood@lincoln.ac.uk).

Sign up to TNA’s Manorial Documents Research mailing list

The National Archives is setting up a Manorial Documents Research mailing list, following their successful conference in September – ‘Manorial Documents: past, present and into the future’.

By subscribing to the mailing list, you will join a network of researchers and interested individuals. You will also receive direct updates about:

– research projects relating to manorial documents

– events related to manorial documents

– our progress in the revision of the Manorial Documents Register

Now is a particularly exciting time to subscribe, with the final Manorial Documents Register county projects set for completion in the next few years. Alongside other events, there will be a second conference in 2022 to celebrate this progress and to showcase manorial research from across the UK.

To join the mailing list, please email mdr@nationalarchives.gov.uk