Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences

Think Human Festival: Successes and legacy

Thursday, 14 June 2018

Think Human Festival: Successes and legacy

Last month (21-26 May) Think Human Festival took place at Oxford Brookes showcasing exciting teaching and research from the humanities and social sciences. Laura Baldock, Project Manager for the festival, writes on how it went and some of the key successes.

It was a massive programme! Over 35 different free activities, talks, debates and performances held at Headington and Harcourt and in venues across Oxford.

Over 2,000 visitors attended Think Human events and audiences were a great mix of students, alumni, staff, school children and diverse groups from the local community and further afield.

The festival created a buzz online with people flocking to the website and lots of social media activity before and during. This has helped raise the profile of the faculty and take our teaching and research expertise to new audiences.

Our photography competition on Instagram visually explored what it means to be human and helped us catch the attention of a younger demographic.

Staff, students, alumni, local schools, the local community and an international Instagram following engaged with the competition. Check out the winning and shortlisted entries  here. We are looking at displaying these as part of a Think Human legacy exhibition in the autumn.  

Our events were diverse, demonstrating the multiple issues and themes that colleagues in the humanities and social sciences tackle on a daily basis here at Oxford Brookes. While many were fun, some were more serious: Educating for Mental Resilience saw a panel of experts from the education and allied professional sectors tackling difficult questions about how best to support young people’s mental health; and Thinking Evil in Dark Times featured dramatic monologues which introduced the audience to two historical characters: Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a Christian theologian and Adolf Eichmann, a member of the Nazi bureaucracy.

Having put these events on for Think Human we are now able to learn from the experience of event coordinators, academics and audiences and re-run selected events in new settings. For example, the Thinking Evil in Dark Times event would work particularly well in schools to further study of history, philosophy or drama. We are also looking forward to hosting more live music on campus following the wonderful performances at our Protest Songs event.

Academics fed back that the festival was a valuable experience both in terms of discovering research connections with colleagues and rethinking formats through which to communicate the value of their teaching and research to external audiences.

We were honoured to host such a range of celebrated panelists at Think Human events, such as the Protest Songs event with the legendary Peggy Seeger and the Writing Working Class Fiction event with three award-winning novelists. Not to mention the fantastic exhibition of  Peter Kennard’s work - which you can still see in the JHBB reception area - curated especially for the festival by the artist himself.

Even better, those particular guests are now keen to continue their relationship with the faculty and the University and we have also been asked to collaborate further with many of the schools, community groups, performers, galleries and charitable organisations involved in Think Human.

Our student guiders - who were invaluable throughout festival week - have told us how proud they were to represent the faculty at Think Human events. Many said they saw it as an opportunity to promote the value of the subjects they were studying and therefore the value of their eventual degrees.

Watch a brief video below showing some of the highlights of Think Human Festival. You can also see a selection of photographs from the festival on  Flickr.