TORCH is shining light on humanities subjects

Victoria McGuinness believes there is a renewed interest in the humanities

Victoria McGuinness believes there is a renewed interest in the humanities

First published in News

ON a cold and wet Monday evening, the Examination Schools on the High Street had a queue of keen people waiting to see if there would be room for them to join the presentation.

It was the opening event in The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) series Humanities and the Public Good which had attracted so much interest.

What this shows is that there is a refreshed level of energy and engagement with the humanities and collaborative research.

Humanities subjects include history, English, classics, art and philosophy.

That is part of what TORCH is for – a vehicle to enable these events, discussions and future research.

Unfortunately for those waiting outside on the High Street, there was only room for nine people on the reserve list as we had reached the venue’s 440 capacity.

Launched in May 2013, TORCH stimulates and supports research activity that transcends disciplinary and institutional boundaries.

Based in the original and beautifully renovated Radcliffe Infirmary Building on the Woodstock Road, the University of Oxford’s Humanities Division is the home for TORCH.

It is adjacent to Oxford’s new Mathematical Institute and it forms part of the historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter, one of the most significant development projects the University of Oxford has undertaken for more than a century.

The quarter will also be the home of the Blavatnik School of Government and the Department of Primary Care Health Sciences.

TORCH provides an important opportunity for Oxford’s humanities scholars to collaborate with researchers in other colleges, disciplines, divisions and institutions, and to engage with non-academic partners and the wider public.

Through provision of seminar rooms, start-up funding, administrative support and publicity, the centre enables new communities of scholars to generate and develop cross-disciplinary research agendas.

TORCH sponsors many exciting new networks and programmes such as environmental humanities, as well as arts and Humanities Research Council/TORCH cultural engagement fellows.

Events like those in the current Humanities and the Public Good series enable all people to discuss and develop new lines of research.

Public engagement is an important aspect of this work.

TORCH is also a hub for early-career scholars and supports the humanities division’s new programme in knowledge exchange.

TORCH also provides research space for up to 20 early-career scholars, hosts a wide range of projects including digitalhumanities@Oxford and the Humanitas visiting professor programme, and works in partnership with other research centres within and beyond Oxford.

Humanitas is a series of visiting professorships at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.

We have recently welcomed the latest visiting professorship with a hugely successful series by Dr Rowan Williams, former Archbishop of Canterbury and currently Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge.

Every event was filled to capacity, with positive feedback from visitors.

Looking to the future, TORCH will continue to support research programmes and look to widen this to more collaborative work, particularly focusing on humanities and science.

All events are free and all are welcome. Registration at torch.ox.ac.uk is strongly recommended to guarantee a place.

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