News and Views

Research Resilience – Call for Contributions

History UK and The National Archives’ Higher Education Archive Programme (HEAP) are teaming up to explore how archivists and historians have adapted their research projects and ways of working as a result of closures and restrictions on access. We are currently inviting expressions of interest in contributing case studies and more general reflections:

Research Resilience

Panel discussion and networking: Wednesday 21 April 2021, 2-4pm (online)

CALL FOR CONTRIBUTIONS

Photo of researcher at The National Archives, following social distancing measures
© The National Archives

The circumstances of 2020-1 have exacerbated pre-existing challenges across our sectors, particularly in terms of access to archive and library materials. Yet it’s also shown us innovation, resilience, and the importance of mutual learning by archivists and historians alike.

History UK and The National Archives’ Higher Education Archive Programme (HEAP) are inviting reflections on the ways archivists and historians have adapted research projects and practices as a result of closures and social distancing. The aim is to explore how changes made for COVID-19 can and should be used to address longstanding issues of accessibility and equity, and to provide practical guidance for those needing to reframe or rethink their research. We want to hear about your personal experiences, as well as creative solutions and thoughts on how to make them sustainable.

We plan to compile a series of blog posts and videos of experiences to help us and our communities explore and build on what we have learned about a blended approach to research and collections access. These will be shared online in advance of a Research Resilience event, in which we will come together to discuss, network, and learn from each other.

We are inviting expressions of interest in writing a short blog post or video on your experiences of having to rethink research and/or access to collections. This may include, but is not limited to:

  • approaches to reframing research projects, whether as a result of COVID-19, or because of caring responsibilities, disability, or structural barriers
  • practical and sustainable ways of making archive and/or library materials more accessible
  • ideas for breaking down barriers between researchers and archivists

No need to be an expert, just able to capture your experience and try to join us at the event itself for questions and discussion.

Send a brief (c.100 words) overview of the experience you’d like to share to historyuk2020@gmail.com by 5pm on Friday 29 January. If this deadline is too soon, let us know – we can be flexible.

Please note that we may have to review the timing of the event if pandemic measures seem likely to compromise attendance levels or our ability to run it effectively.

History UK student video competition – winning entry

As part of our ongoing Pandemic Pedagogy initiative, we are delighted to be able to announce that the winner of our student video competition is Deborah Arolake Adelodun, a History student at the University of Warwick. We asked entrants to reflect on their experience of being a student of History in the new digital world and were particularly impressed with Deborah’s entry, which considers some of the benefits of the transition to learning digitally. You can watch Deborah’s video here:

We also asked Deborah to write short reflection to expand on some of the points that she makes in the video:

In this video I share some of my own opinions about being a history student in a “new digital world.” Firstly, it is important to note that in understanding the impact of this new digital world has on History students it is also important to look at the pandemic that precipitated this new shift. If there is anything Covid-19 has shown it is the significance of history experts in understanding and helping to tackle crisis, leading to History degrees hopefully being regarded with more prestige and respect. I think the transition to online learning has produced considerable benefits, one major one being an increased room for flexibility. Online lectures, for example, have meant less rigid and controlled schedules. Students now have the luxury of working in their own time at a suitable pace. However, naturally, this change does present some challenges. I personally have found myself experiencing a sense of disconnectedness. It is fair to say that a computer screen cannot provide the same experiences human interaction can and have done in the past. Not being able to physically interact with others or even be in the same room as classmates can make one feel isolated and perhaps even alone during one’s journey at university. Notwithstanding, I believe the occasional face-to-face lessons have compensated for this alienation to some degree and, despite the limitation imposed by Covid-19, the overall experience has helped to engage history students with broader debates and discussion. It is quite clear that lecturers have thoughtfully shaped online learning with the aim of providing quality and relatively easy-to-use teaching that can be matched with conventional, in-person teaching.

Professor Rebecca Earle, Head of the Department of History at the University of Warwick, had the following to say about Deborah’s contribution:
As Deborah Arolake Adelodun observes in this thoughtful video, we are ourselves a part of history, even if we don’t always see ourselves in this light.  Future generations will consider the ways in which higher education responded to the challenges of this pandemic. When they do, they will be impressed by the incisive analysis offered by today’s university students, and also by the ability of students such as Deborah Arolake Adelodun to take a critical, historical perspective on this global calamity.

We are keen to hear from about the experiences of other students so please do get in touch on Twitter or via this blog if you’d also like to share your insights into your recent experiences.

Pandemic Pedagogy – your chance to contribute

History UK is looking to build on the Pandemic Pedagogy project by exploring the continuing impact of Covid-19 on teaching history in higher education. We are inviting short blog posts (300-500 words long) and/or podcasts/videos (c. 3-5 minutes long) that address how the pandemic has change or affected subject specific teaching practice in History and cognate disciplines.
Such contributions could include but is not limited to:
  • learning and teaching environments: the socially distanced classroom, online, hybrid and hy-flex
  • diversity and inclusivity
  • technology and software or high tech versus low tech
  • assessment methods
  • activities beyond the classroom (e.g. field trips)
  • student engagement
  • health and wellbeing – staff and students
  • student communities
  • collaborative learning
  • the ways in which students have perceived, understood, and responded to the changes and challenges
If you would like to contribute to the next phase of pandemic pedagogy, please email Dr Sarah Holland (sarah.holland@nottingham.ac.uk), History UK’s Education Officer.
We are hoping to begin to release the blog posts/podcasts/videos from mid-January 2021.

History UK statement on cuts to Arts and Humanities in Higher Education

History UK is deeply concerned about the growing number of arts and humanities disciplines, centres, and institutes facing closure and cuts. The latest involve the closure of the Institutes of Commonwealth Studies and Latin American Studies at the School of Advanced Study, University of London, and significant reductions in staff across the Schools of Arts and Humanities at the University of Roehampton. We have received reports of planned cuts elsewhere.

Earlier this year, we put out a statement in defence of history following the announcement of the closure of History programmes at the University of Sunderland. We will not reiterate those points here, though they remain relevant, because the growing threat to Arts and Humanities is bigger than any one discipline or institution.

Instead, we emphasise our support for colleagues at the School of Advanced Study, Roehampton, and elsewhere whose positions are under threat. To face redundancy during a global pandemic and economic recession is particularly traumatic. When such large-scale redundancies are being made to restructure and realign disciplines at short notice, it should raise serious questions about the long-term strategic decision-making of university senior management rather than individual units within institutions.

We also want to stress the need for unity between institutions and disciplines in the face of cuts. In many universities, closures and cuts are being targeted disproportionately at arts and humanities subjects, yet will have effects far beyond those disciplines.

Beyond the immediate human impact, the widespread undermining of the arts and humanities threatens the international standing of UK higher education, and comes at a time when their value to society is coming into ever sharper focus. Important and unfinished work, such as that of the Institute of Commonwealth Studies around decolonizing the university and on Black British History, is imperiled. Across the sector, it risks curtailing the opportunities students from all backgrounds have to study the arts and humanities and have their lives transformed.

Although currently localised, the likely impending scale of such cuts requires a coordinated response. We consider this to be a strategic matter that requires the input of not just one subject organisation within the arts and humanities, but from all of us.

History UK recognises that it has limited powers when it comes to decision-making within institutions. But we will lobby actively for the future of our disciplines, and work with other bodies, such as the Arts and Humanities Alliance, where we can. We are keen to explore new ways of offering support to staff and students affected by cuts and redundancies, and we welcome the ideas and support of all members of the history community.

History UK student video competition – What’s it like to be a history student in this new digital world?

The move to online and blended learning has had a big impact on university staff and students alike. At the same time, COVID-19 and related restrictions have highlighted the important role the arts and humanities can have in times of crisis.

History UK invites video submissions from current undergraduates and taught postgraduate students that offer creative and imaginative insights into what it’s like to be a history student in this new digital world. You might reflect on the different ways you or other students have navigated the shift to online or blended learning, or you might want to explore the ways the pandemic and related restrictions have made you think differently about history and the relevance of your degree. Submissions can be made individually or as a team.

The entries will be used by History UK as part of its mission to support historians in higher education in the UK. Through its Pandemic Pedagogy project, History UK has gathered a lot of feedback from staff and provided them with guidance on online learning. We’re now keen to gather some student perspectives to complement these resources.

 

Deadline: Wednesday 28 October, 5pm.

 

Eligibility: undergraduate (i.e. BA) and taught postgraduate students (i.e. MA/MSc) of History currently registered at UK higher education providers.

 

Prizes:

1st: £250

2nd: £100

3rd: £50

 

Submission requirements: 

Submissions should be made by emailing historyuk2020@gmail.com by 5pm on Wednesday 28 October with a link to a downloadable version of your video file (e.g. Google Drive, Dropbox, MS OneDrive, WeTransfer).

  • The video should be in a YouTube acceptable format (.MOV .MPEG4, .MP4, .AVI).
  • It should be a maximum of 120 seconds long (excluding credits).
  • You must include credits citing all the materials used.
  • Music, sound effects, and stock footage should have a Creative Commons license attached (from CC-BY-NC-SA up to Public Domain) and be cited in the credits.
  • Audio quotes can be used but comply with the concept of fair dealingand fair use. This typically means editing down to the length of time needed to make the point clear (typically less than 20 seconds).
  • You must get written permission from all people in the video.
  • Along with your video submission, please provide your name(s), your course(s) of study, institution, and the contact details of a tutor who will be able to verify your identity.
  • Entrants will retain ownership over their entries. By submitting an entry, entrants grant History UK a non-exclusive, royalty-free, right and licence to display, publish, transmit, copy, edit, and use the entry in any media, to promote History UK or for educational purposes.

Download a pdf of this call here.