Faculty focus – Arts
Each edition of the Reporter takes a look at one of the University’s nine Faculties – in this issue it’s the turn of the Faculty of Arts.
“It’s an extremely interesting and exciting time in the faculty, with many fascinating new projects on the go or in the pipeline,” says Frank Finlay, Dean of the Faculty of Arts. Later in the year we’re launching our new website which will see us become the first faculty to use the new corporate content management system, giving more colleagues the capacity to add and change content much more easily.
“An increasing amount of our work is cross-disciplinary, and we’re involved in some extremely productive partnerships with other institutions, academic and otherwise. With the faculty of Performance, Visual Arts and Communications and Opera North we had a ‘sandpit’ to share ideas about the future staging of Berg’s opera Lulu. Also with Opera North, we are currently developing a programme of events for 2011 on the theme of liberty and Imprisonment.
“Looking further forward, we’re in the planning stages for a large-scale project to coincide with the centenary of World War I, which will run from 2014-18. The recent launch event was attended by around 20 external organisations, including the Royal Armouries, the British Library and Leeds Museums and Galleries, and looked at how our project might involve the community, not just in Leeds but potentially in twin cities in the combatant nations, too. The hope is that external partnerships will help us to secure research funding, particularly Collaborative Doctoral Awards where the faculty already has a very strong track record, particularly in the School of Humanities. Every school in the faculty is taking part in the WWI project and it’s already proving to be a fantastic way of bringing everyone together to share and develop expertise and knowledge. More broadly, colleagues have been working hard over the summer to further develop the faculty’s bid to the Transformation Fund as it progresses to the next round.
“In addition to a raft of new research council-backed projects too numerous to mention here, our strategy to attract a wider diversity of sponsors has brought some notable successes in European schemes, for example in History and Translation Studies, while English has attracted major funding from the US. In collaboration with the Faculty of Medicine, we’re involved in an ambitious initiative under the umbrella of ‘Medical Humanities’ which will be looking potentially to the Wellcome Trust for support. This would dovetail nicely with historian Iona McCleery’s new, three-year Wellcome-funded project which is bringing together historians, nutritionists and archaeological scientists to explore the concept of a ‘balanced diet’ in history. It has also been particularly pleasing to see some outstanding results being achieved by a number of our early career researchers in the past twelve months, for example, in Linguistics and Philosophy.
Internationally, the faculty’s flagship relationship with the University of Copenhagen remains strong and continues to create new opportunities for students and staff. We are also building connections with several overseas universities, and are actively participating in a number of WUN projects. As an innovation this year, we have set up a bilateral arrangement for early career staff from Leeds to spend time in Sydney and vice versa, and are exploring a similar relationship with PKU in Beijing.
“Against this vibrant background, the faculty is constantly striving to enhance our students’ education. We have a number of new modules running this academic year which explicitly deal with public engagement. These include ‘Classics on Screen’ which is in collaboration with the National Media Museum, and ‘Language, Identity and Community’ which involves three Yorkshire museums. We also continue to develop strong links with local community groups like the Leeds Black Elders Association, which offer our undergraduates research opportunities.
“Amongst a number of projects led by our enhancement officer, we’re developing ways to showcase the original research we’ve been encouraging our undergraduates to undertake in schemes such as ‘Students as Scholars’. Activities range from an Undergraduate Research Conference – building upon the success of the faculty’s Postgraduate Conference 2010 – to a dedicated student research journal and website. All these initiatives will be run by the students, with academic and administrative guidance from the faculty, and will benefit those taking part in a variety of ways – in particular developing many transferable ‘employability’ skills.”
*Higher Education Funding Council for England.
- Arts is one of the largest faculties in the University, with around 4,500 undergraduates, over 400 taught postgraduates and 240 research students.
- The faculty employs more than 380 staff.
- The faculty is home to four large schools, the University Language Centre, and several institutes, including the Institute of Medieval Studies (IMS), Institute for Colonial and Postcolonial Studies, Centre for Translation Studies and Centre for
- The IMS hosts the annual International Medieval Congress, attracting 1,600 participants annually – the largest such event in Europe.
- The faculty hosts the HEFCE-backed Centre for the study of Inter-Disciplinary and Applied Ethics, and is currently running two HEFCE*- funded Routes into Languagesprojects to promote language learning and careers in interpreting.