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The Pandemic and Beyond: The Arts and Humanities Contribution to Covid-19 Research and Recovery will be co-ordinated by a multi-talented team at Exeter 

University of Exeter wins prestigious grant to showcase the contribution of arts and humanities research through the Covid-19 pandemic

The University of Exeter has been awarded £200,000* by the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC), part of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), to take arts and humanities research beyond higher education to drive social change. This timely initiative will see a diverse community from universities, museums, charities and community organisations come together to demonstrate the importance of arts and humanities research through the Covid-19 pandemic

The Pandemic and Beyond: The Arts and Humanities Contribution to Covid-19 Research and Recovery will be co-ordinated by a multi-talented team at Exeter with expertise in the creative industries, visual arts and culture, medical humanities, public health, social sciences, ethics and communications.

The Principal Investigator and project lead is Professor Pascale Aebischer who will work with the huge range of outstanding academics throughout the UK on Covid-19 projects supported by the AHRC with over £16 million. The two-year programme will help connect, support and showcase over 70 AHRC projects which broadly cover three themes: the impact of Covid-19 on the cultural and creative sector; ethical, regulatory and human rights issues in responses to Covid-19; and communication and public health during the pandemic.

The Covid-19 pandemic has disrupted almost all aspects of life. What started as a health crisis quickly became a social, economic and cultural one as well, with implications increasingly interconnected. The relevance of arts and humanities research to the national response has been critical and life-changing from supporting people in care homes to shaping health messages in diverse communities, from examining government legislation and interventions to helping the creative industries adapt to online audiences. The impact and legacy of the pandemic has gone far beyond the strain on the NHS and daily death toll to affect the very fabric of our society, our laws, our communities, our economy, and our wellbeing.

Professor Pascale Aebischer says:

“Arts and humanities interventions have been fundamental to building resilience and finding solutions to the problems in health, society and culture. The ‘Pandemic and Beyond’ aims to share those solutions widely and provide a platform that informs, inspires and brings about permanent change in our understanding of how to tackle future crises.

“Our aim is to create a powerful legacy for the AHRC funded research. The measure of our success will be that when the next crisis hits, arts and humanities are integrated from the start not just in terms of how to frame the problem, but also in how to identify solutions and strategies – for example, within Sage – so that we put people’s economic and physical needs, their wellbeing, social cohesion and cultural resilience at the centre of the response. We want to ensure that we are fighting fit for the next crisis and demonstrate how arts and humanities research is integral to crisis management and recovery.”

Professor Christopher Smith, AHRC Executive Chair, said:

“We are excited to showcase the contribution that arts and humanities research has made during the pandemic and to highlight the vital role it has to play in the post-pandemic recovery.

“From finding innovative ways to support our cultural sector to amplifying the voices of critically vulnerable members of society, AHRC has been committed to supporting rigorous multidisciplinary research to address the challenges posed by the pandemic.

“The Exeter team will help connect and co-ordinate a range of AHRC funded projects to ensure we learn lessons for future crises and build more resilient and supportive communities.” 

The ‘Pandemic and Beyond’ project is hosted by the Wellcome Centre for Cultures and Environments of Health at the University of Exeter and embedded in the College of Humanities, with team members from Humanities (Prof Pascale Aebischer, Dr Benedict Morrison, Dr Rachael Nicholas), the Medical School (Prof Victoria Tischler), the Business School (Prof Sarah Hartley), and Social Sciences and International Studies (Prof Des Fitzgerald). The team will build partnerships with academic communities, the wider public connected or impacted by the AHRC Covid-19 projects, Non-Governmental Organisations and policymakers to inform local, national and international crisis response and policy. The project will begin in March 2021 and conclude in February 2023.

*Exact grant figure is: £199,962.40

Date: 23 March 2021

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