School of Advanced Study to boost commitment to digital humanities

Friday 11 December 2020

The School of Advanced Study (SAS) at the University of London is to establish a new Centre for Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities.

This follows a staff consultation on proposals for the future of the School, which currently comprises nine separate research institutes and a central administration.

The proposals centred on the School’s ambition to become a national centre for the humanities by drawing on the research, special collections, and networks of its institutes. The proposals would also ensure the financial sustainability of the School.

A proposal to close the Institute of Commonwealth Studies has been suspended pending the report of a newly appointed committee charged with conducting an inquiry into the future of Commonwealth studies at the university. The committee will be chaired by former UK foreign secretary Sir Malcolm Rifkind and aims to report by the end of June 2021.

The Institute of Latin American Studies (ILAS) will be dissolved as a separate institute but reimagined in a new Centre for Latin American Studies within the Institute of Modern Languages Research in order to promote transnational and transcultural study. 

The new Centre for Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities will focus on five critical research agendas: digital critical literacy and skills development; digital cultural heritage; the ethics of digital research, including AI; digital public engagement; and multilingualism in the digital sphere. These are key areas identified for investment by UK Research and Innovation. Building capacity in this area by bringing digital experts together from across SAS will allow researchers to capitalise on the national and international growth in interest and investment in this subject.

Professor Jo Fox, dean of the School of Advanced Study, said: “In uniquely challenging circumstances, I believe we have made good on our promise to support key academic work in SAS while preparing the School for the future.

“The consultation process brought new partners to the fore that allowed for the possibility to rethink the Institute of Commonwealth Studies in a modern and exciting way. The new Centre for Interdisciplinary Digital Humanities gives us capacity to undertake more complex, transformative research in this critical field of study in the UK and globally.

“We tried to find alternative homes for the Institute of Latin American Studies but none of the bodies we approached felt it was viable in its current form. But having to think again about how we might reposition Latin American studies within the School revealed new possibilities to build on the very best of ILAS while repositioning its work within the interdisciplinary field of modern languages. In that context I think the new Centre for Latin American Studies will play an important role in protecting that subject of study in the UK.”

For all enquiries, please contact Dr Kristan Tetens (kristan.tetens@sas.ac.uk), School of Advanced Study.