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 Pandemic Pedagogy fellowship

At the beginning of June, History UK launched a ‘Pandemic Pedagogy’ initiative to help support
historians move out of the ‘emergency’ phase of online teaching and start planning for a remote
and socially-distanced campus in the Autumn. The aim is to produce short, user-friendly, and
practical guides than can inform planning, including:

  • An overview of tools for online teaching – an annotated list introducing various digital tools
    people may have heard of but not used
  • An introduction to various ways of staging digital small-group interactions
  • A page on tools and strategies for collaborative close ‘reading’ and annotation of ‘texts’

History UK is seeking a postgraduate student for a fixed-term fellowship to support the initiative.
The History UK fellow will conduct desk-based searches of websites, blog posts, and social media
for relevant case studies, reports, and other practical guides. They will write clear and concise
summaries of their findings to help inform the resources that History UK will produce and curate,
and attend virtual team meetings. They will be encouraged to write a blog post for the History UK
website on a topic of their choosing (relevant to the initiative), and may also be required to assist
in the organisation of an online ‘Pandemic Pedagogy’ roundtable.

The fellow will be expected to work flexibly for 50 hours in total over four weeks, starting on
Wednesday 17 June, or soon after. All work needs to be completed by Wednesday 15 July. The
renumeration for the fellowship is fixed at £750.

Person specification:

  • A postgraduate student (MA or PhD) in History, or a related subject, based at a higher
    education institution in the UK
  • Strong research skills
  • Excellent written and oral communication skills
  • Ability to work independently and with minimal supervision
  • Excellent organisation, project management skills, and attention to detail
  • Expertise and interest in pedagogy (preferable)
  • Experience of writing for the web (preferable)

To apply:

Send a CV of up to two pages and a one-page cover letter to pandemicpedagogy2020@gmail.com.
In the cover letter you should explain why you are interested in the role, how you meet the person
specification, and what you will bring to the initiative.

The deadline for applications is Thursday 11 June at 2pm.

Applications will be reviewed by the team working on the Pandemic Pedagogy initiative:
www.history-uk.ac.uk/2020/06/03/history-uks-pandemic-pedagogy-initiative-starts-today and the
successful candidate notified by the end of Monday 15 June.

Report – Teaching American History: Secondary School Teachers Panel at the 2019 BrANCH Annual Conference

We are delighted to share a report from the association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH), who received some funding from History UK to run an event at their conference this autumn:

Building relationships with secondary schools has long been an aspiration of the association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH). Thanks to History UK, we have now made an important first step towards realising that goal.  This October, funding from History UK enabled teachers from local secondary schools to attend the 2019 Annual BrANCH Conference at the University of Edinburgh to participate in the association’s first Teaching American History Panel.

Katie Hunter from St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School Edinburgh opened the session with an overview of American history curriculum currently on offer at Scottish schools, complete with reading lists and exam questions. The following panellists included academics who each proposed ways to translate the latest developments in the field of U.S. history into the classroom. Professor Robert Cook summarised the last half century of Civil War historiography before highlighting several “active debates” to engage students’ interest, including ongoing disputes over the removal of Confederate monuments from public spaces in the United States. Dr Elizabeth Clapp then suggested ways to incorporate women into Civil War history lesson plans, from the activities of female abolitionists to concepts of gender in wartime propaganda.

Professor Tim Lockley (Warwick) introduced several databases, including Documenting the American South, which hold oral and written testimonies by former slaves in the American South. Dr David Silkenet (Edinburgh) finished with an overview of websites, including Essential Civil War Curriculum, which provide lesson plans created by historians that breakdown key topics in U.S. history into digestible segments to be utilised in classrooms.

The room then engaged in a lively plenary discussion regarding structural barriers which inhibit communication and collaboration between historians and teachers in the UK. Among these was a lack of institutional support – both financial and in terms of workload allocation –to enable teachers to participate in academic events. Another was the difficulty of encouraging exam boards to ensure that their questions reflect recent methodological and historiographical developments in the field of American history.

These are formidable challenges. Thanks to suggestions made by speakers and audience members during this panel, however, BrANCH has devised several initiatives to address them. For example, our members are currently creating teaching packs, including reading lists and source materials, which will be made available on the association’s website for the use of teachers at all levels of the education system. This December, moreover, the BrANCH committee will attend a follow-up workshop to discuss long-term collaborations with staff at the St Thomas Aquinas Secondary School. Finally, a Teachers’ Panel will be a regular fixture at BrANCH’s future conferences with a view to enabling the association to develop a network of relationships with secondary schools across the country.

Undoubtedly there is a vast gulf between how American history is studied within the academy, and how it is taught in secondary schools. This panel, however, revealed just how much enthusiasm there is among teachers and historians alike to close this gap. With the help of History UK, BrANCH has laid the foundation of what we anticipate will grow into a dynamic, mutually-beneficent relationship between our members and American history teachers throughout the UK.

 

Conference funding for panel on inequality, underrepresentation, and discrimination in the field of U.S. History with secondary school teachers (with BrANCH)

The Association of British American Nineteenth Century Historians (BrANCH) is the leading organisation for scholars of nineteenth-century U.S. history in the UK. In recent years, the association has sought to involve itself in initiatives to address issues surrounding inequality, underrepresentation, and discrimination in the field of U.S. History and is particularly keen to encourage greater racial, gender, and socioeconomic diversity among students studying U.S. History at undergraduate and postgraduate levels.

History UK is providing £500 to help strengthen BrANCH’s relationships with institutions and individuals working in secondary education. Four teachers from local secondary schools will be invited to participate in a panel on 12th October at the 2019 Annual BrANCH Conference at the University of Edinburgh.

This panel, which will consist of both secondary school and university teachers of U.S. history, has three main aims.

  1. To share teaching practices, specifically regarding new digital archives and online resources that can be utilised in the classroom. Participants will focus on resources that allow access to non-traditional sources that can be used to develop new curriculum which moves beyond uncritically white- and male-centred histories of the United States.
  2. To discuss issues of diversity and equality among staff and students in the field of U.S. History in the UK. Panellists will share views from their vantage points in different areas of the education system and reflect on why certain racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic groups are underrepresented in the field of U.S. History beyond GCSE/A-Level.
  3. To explore future steps BrANCH and its individual members can take to address these issues, focussing on long-term collaborative initiatives between secondary school and higher education teachers.

The principal aim is to raise awareness regarding issues of discrimination, underrepresentation, and inequality in our field. This will further facilitate the building of networks between these teachers and BrANCH members, most of whom teach in higher education.

Alys Beverton (Cardiff University and Marketing and Fundraising Officer for BrANCH) said:

“BrANCH has been wanting to strength ties between its members and colleagues working in secondary schools for a while now. With this support from History UK we’re going to be able to actually get some of us together in the same room to have face-to-face conversations about issues relating to equality and diversity in our field, as well as share ideas about new learning materials we can all use to bring the latest resources into our classrooms. We’re really hopeful that this will be the starting point for what will grow into longer-term relationships between BrANCH and secondary school teachers in Edinburgh and perhaps beyond.”

Lucinda Matthews-Jones (co-convenor of History UK) said:

“We’re really pleased, at History UK, to be able to support BrANCH in furthering subject conversations with local school teachers by providing financial support to bring 4 teachers to their conference both as delegates and speakers. As a sector we have a lot to learn from our secondary school counterparts on how history is taught to our students before they come to university. We welcome the opportunity to assist with this collaboration.”

Follow BrANCH on Twitter @Branch19th

For more on projects (and events) funded by History UK, on opportunities to apply for funding, go to our funding page.

Launch of New Funding Scheme for Black and Minority Ethnic History, supported by HUK, EHS and SHS

History UK, the Social History Society and the Economic History Society and are launching a new funding scheme to support Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) history. The scheme has been created in recognition of the under-representation, structural inequalities and racism afflicting UK Higher Education Institutions. We are committing £2,000 a year for three years in the first instance.

The BME Events and Activities Small Grants Scheme will provide grants of up to £750 to support activities and events run by BME historians or on subjects relating to BME history. It is open to applicants looking to run conferences, workshops and symposia, as well as other activities such as exhibitions, walking tours, performances of podcasts. The initial call for applications for funding opens today and will close on 1 September 2019. Further details are available here: http://socialhistory.org.uk/bme-events-and-activities/

Lucinda Matthews-Jones and Jamie Wood, co-convenors of History UK, said:

This funding scheme represents another strand to History UK’s support for diversification of the historical profession in higher education, including events around inclusivity in the classroom, new-to-teaching workshops, and our annual academic job boot camp. We welcome the opportunity to collaborate with other subject organisations to address the issues raised in the RHS report last year and hope that this can lead to further initiatives.

A panel of experts, comprised of Professor Catherine Hall (University College London), Dr Meleisa Ono-George (University of Warwick) and Dr Jonathan Saha (University of Leeds), will assess all applications to the scheme.

This support is open to professional historians (working in universities or elsewhere), independent scholars, retired staff and students alike. The only stipulation is that applicants should be (or be willing to become) members of either the SHS or EHS. In the case of applicants who are permanently employed in Higher Education Institutions, their department should also be (or willing to become) a subscribing member of History UK.

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