Wednesday, July 15, 2020

SHAPE: Social Sciences, Humanities, and the Arts for People and the Economy

The British Academy recently launched a new initiative to promote the role of social sciences, arts, and humanities.  Details of the initiative are available on the following website and spelt out below. Many recent UK science policy documents, consistent with other countries, have pointed to the importance of investing in STEM disciplines to drive innovation and there is clearly an important rationale to keep a wider set of factors in mind when thinking about SHAPE disciplines in terms of key components of human welfare. The recent developments with covid is a prime example of the importance of considering social and economic aspects of large-scale problems and the limits of purely technological and medical approaches to dealing with such complex processes. The extent to which any acronym is useful is obviously an open question but I am certainly supportive of the goals of this initiative and will be following it as it progresses throughout the next few years.
SHAPE is a new collective name for those subjects that help us understand ourselves, others and the human world around us. They provide us with the methods and forms of expression we need to build better, deeper, more colourful and more valuable lives for all. 
Academic and business leaders believe the future lies in recognising and capturing the value of SHAPE disciplines themselves, as well as how they work together with STEM to build a better functioning future.
The extraordinary times we’re all currently living through show us just how crucial SHAPE subjects are in keeping life running, care going, communities together, the economy working, the environment sustainable and people’s spirits lifted.
Some recent blogs and commentary related to SHAPE (thanks to Shivani Shukla for keeping track of these).

1. Panel Discussion on SHAPE by Jesus College Oxford, on July 17, 2020
6. Opinion piece in The Guardian, by Peter Bazalgette: Why the arts must shape our future
11. Coverage in the Marketing Gazette: Shape campaign: A rebranding of ‘soft’ academic subjects
12. Blog article on SHAPE: SHAPE-ing the Future 
13. Mention of SHAPE in Research Libraries UK:

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