2023's news highlights from the Faculty of Humanities
Our fantastic Humanities colleagues have been doing great things once again this year. Here are some of the most popular and interesting news stories from the faculty in 2023 - enjoy!
The year kicked off with Shadow Foreign Secretary David Lammy MP welcoming a report by our experts which highlighted the issue of racial bias in the justice system, after a meeting to discuss the findings with the academics and co-authors who compiled it. The report had raised urgent questions about racial attitudes and practices in the justice system - particularly in the judiciary - in England and Wales.
Also in January, Professor Rob Ford was appointed as a Senior Fellow by Brexit research network UK in a Changing Europe, an independent research organisation which was launched in 2015 to promote rigorous, high-quality and independent research into the complex and ever-changing relationship between the UK and the European Union.
At the start of a year punctuated by political scandals, major research launched in February found that MPs who are deeply embedded in corporate networks outside Westminster may be too busy to effectively perform their parliamentary duties, as they are less likely to be active as members of parliament and therefore may be too busy to serve their constituents.
During the same month, a rescue team from UK-Med - the frontline medical response charity based at the University - headed to Turkey and Syria after a devastating earthquake to lead the UK's initial medical assessment team.
March saw the publication of the latest findings of the #BeeWell survey of school pupils in Years 9 and 10 across Greater Manchester, which found that girls and LGBTQ+ young people had again reported significantly lower levels of wellbeing than their peers. Professor Neil Humphrey, who is the academic lead for the project, said the latest findings highlighted the need for action to tackle inequalities experienced by vulnerable and marginalised groups.
In the same month the University was able to celebrate as Manchester School of Architecture was named as one of the top five architecture schools in the QS World Subject Rankings, and Professor Jackie Carter was recognised at the FDM Everywoman in Technology Awards, which celebrate the tech industry’s most exceptional talent in order to inspire the next generation from the UK and beyond.
New research launched in April found that more than a third of people from ethnic and religious minority groups in Britain have experienced some form of racist assault. The racism reported by the survey’s respondents took different forms - physical, verbal or damage to property - and happened in all areas of life including education, work and when looking for housing.
Also in April, an innovative new student education programme led by The University of Manchester was one of five new drug use reduction projects to be awarded part of a £5 million government innovation fund. The Staying Safe Programme is a documentary-style video education project designed to reduce demand for drugs by deterring or delaying the onset of their use, preventing the transition to heavy or problematic use, and equipping students with the knowledge required to reduce the harms associated with the use of recreational drugs.
In May, we received the terribly sad news that Laura Nuttall - the inspirational student who graduated from her Politics, Philosophy and Economics degree despite having incurable brain cancer - had passed away.
Laura discovered she had Glioblastoma Multiforme - an aggressive and incurable form of brain cancer - after a routine eye test in 2018. Despite being given twelve months to live at the time, she showed incredible strength by managing to undertake and complete her studies while undergoing her gruelling treatment, alongside raising awareness for brain charities and the University's Geoffrey Jefferson Brain Research Centre.
Everyone who met her and her Mum Nicola - myself included - was amazed by their courage, and we were all deeply saddened when we heard the news. Laura was an inspiration, and she will never be forgotten by any of us here at The University of Manchester.
June saw award-winning author, broadcaster and Professor of Sociology, Gary Younge, win the prestigious Orwell Prize for Journalism 2023. The Orwell Prizes are awarded every year to the writing and reporting which best meets the spirit of George Orwell's own ambition 'to make political writing into an art'.
The judges commented "There was one clear winner for the panel - it was a unanimous decision - with judges praising the work for its long form elements and maturity - a journalist who throughout his career has shown a commitment to exploring, explaining and challenging his audience - his work in this award 'takes us to uncomfortable places but with clarity, humanity and empathy’.”
Gary joined The University of Manchester in 2020 from The Guardian, where he was appointed US correspondent in 2003, before becoming their editor-at-large in 2015. Gary’s latest book is a collection of his journalism, Dispatches from the Diaspora: From Nelson Mandela to Black Lives Matter.
At the very start of July, a project which created a live ‘early alarm’ system of major displacement, human rights abuses, humanitarian needs and civilian resistance in Ukraine was recognised by the OECD’s Observatory of Public Sector Innovation.
Experts at The University of Manchester, Penn State University, UNC Chapel Hill and the University of Maryland joined forces to establish the Data For Ukraine project which created a Twitter-based event detection system that provides geo-located event data on humanitarian needs, displaced persons, human rights abuses and civilian resistance in near real-time. The OECD remarked that Data For Ukraine has a major potential for success and replication, and they hope that by recognising it as a case study, the project will inspire other governments to take action.
An Optometry team from The University of Manchester were awarded the University’s first-ever Collaborative Award for Teaching Excellence by Advance HE in August, alongside two academics who have received National Teaching Fellowships in recognition of their own outstanding contributions to teaching.
This month also saw Olga Onuch appointed as the first-ever Professor of Ukrainian Politics in the English-speaking world, and also saw a major archaeological dig led by Professor Julian Thomas at the Neolithic site of Arthur’s Stone uncover startling and important 6000-year-old remains.
In a deeply moving ceremony in September, the Aboriginal Anindilyakwa community of Australia’s Northern Territory celebrated the return of 174 cultural heritage items as part of a landmark repatriation project organised with Manchester Museum. The cultural heritage material was formally returned to representatives of the community, who had travelled all the way from Groote Eylandt to take part, after a three-year process supported by UNESCO to determine where the collection of items could best inspire future generations.
Also in September, UK-Med were called upon again when they deployed a specialist team of humanitarian workers to Morocco following an earthquake. The team of humanitarian workers who travelled to the country included a medical lead, a paramedic, a water and sanitation engineer, a logistics expert and a team leader.
Professor Jackie Carter was deservedly named as one of the 100 most influential disabled people in the UK in October. in recognition of her work to break the stigma around disability to create a more accessible and inclusive world for all. Since becoming disabled in 2017, Jackie has advocated for the voices of disabled people to be heard and their experiences to be better understood. She has launched a series of recorded conversations to shine a light on the lived experiences, challenges and strengths of disabled staff and students at the University, and as EDI Disability Academic Lead, she is using her role to influence the change we need to see, hear and experience to create a more disability-inclusive world.
The faculty was also pleased to welcome former Ukrainian President Viktor Yushchenko and his wife Katherine to the University this month, when they visited campus to speak to Humanities students about the war in his country after attending events in Ireland to mark 25 years of the Good Friday Agreement.
In November, a major report was published which found that the cost of living crisis is having a disproportionate impact on older African and Caribbean, South Asian and other ethnic minorities. The researchers discovered that older people in the UK are experiencing a combination of pressures arising from the cost of living crisis, the impact of COVID-19, and cuts affecting health and social care.
Also in November, the government in the British Crown Dependency of Jersey published a report into assisted dying after an ethical review was undertaken by experts including Dr Alex Mullock from The University of Manchester’s Centre for Social Ethics and Policy.
Finally, December saw the innovative Uncertain Futures art and research project led by Dr Elaine Dewhurst and others receive recognition from from the World Health Organization in a major report. The project, which highlights the inequalities faced by women over 50 years of age in relation to work, aims to create real workable solutions to the difficulties they face.
As another year draws to a close, we would like to thank everyone who played a role in helping us to share these stories - we can't wait to share more fantastic news with the world in 2024, as we celebrate our University's 200th anniversary. A very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to you all!