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Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Research Funding and Strategic Initiatives

Spotlights on Impact in the Arts and Humanities

Discover films and case studies on some of the impactful work being done in the Arts and Humanities at Cambridge.

Researchers share perspectives on the value of collaborating with organisations and individuals beyond universities, as well as some of the lessons they've learned along the way. Many of these projects were supported by the Arts and Humanities Impact Fund, as well as by major funders.


For older case studies, see School of Arts and Humanities' website.



Text and Meaning: The Electronic Dictionary of the Irish Language as Treasure-trove

In 2018-19, Máire Ní Mhaonaigh, Professor of Celtic and Medieval studies, collaborated with educationists to take her research to younger audiences. The original project, the electronic Dictionary of Medieval Irish (hosted by the Queen’s University Belfast and the University of Cambridge, 2014-2019 [AH/L007428/1]),  led to a major new online version of an earlier resource with substantive new entries and corrections. Through a series of workshops in Cambridge, Cork, Belfast and Dublin, Máire worked with teachers and students to create a pilot range of second-level teaching and learning resources. In this film, Máire talks about e-DIL as a treasure-trove of information concerning words and their meaning, as well as the historical concepts underlying them, and why working with teachers has been valuable. Máire and her colleague, Dr Sharon Arbuthnot, are currently working with another cohort of teachers to create online resources as part of a follow-on project, 2020-2021 'Spreading the Word(s)' [AH/T013516/1]. You can follow the work on Twitter (@eDIL_Dictionary), Facebook and view related material on YouTube.



Muslim Experiences of End of Life Care in the UK

Dr Mehrunisha Suleman, previously a research associate at the HRH Prince Alwaleed Bin Talal Centre of Islamic Studies and nominated for a Vice Chancellor’s Impact Award in 2018, worked on end of life care provision for Muslims in the UK’s health system. Her research and associated knowledge transfer events facilitated discussions among medical practitioners, faith leaders and community representatives, and have the potential to dramatically alter both the understanding, and practice, of End of Life Care within the Muslim population and beyond. In this video, Mehrunisha talks about why her work is important, what feedback she’s had, and why dialogue matters, and what her work might mean for the 2.7 million Muslims living in the UK and their healthcare providers. Mehrunisha's work was funded by the Centre of Islam Studies.



Research in England’s Heritage Libraries

Professor Abigail Brundin, Professor of Italian in the Faculty of Modern and Medieval Languages and Linguistics, has been collaborating for some years with major heritage organisations English Heritage and the National Trust, to investigate historic libraries in situ in England’s great houses and organise exhibitions, publications and collaborations that engage with these unexplored collections. In 2019, Brundin worked closely with Dr Peter Moore and staff at Audley End in Essex to stage an exhibition in the house’s historic library, as well as bringing books at Audley End into conversation with books in Cambridge libraries via a virtual exhibition hosted by Cambridge University Library. In this video, she shares her experience of organising ‘Souvenirs of Italy: an English Family Abroad’ at Audley End, and the significance of impact partnerships for research.

The Audley End exhibition was positively reviewed online and on social media. ‘National Trust libraries: an untapped resource. A pilot study of Italian holdings at Belton House, Lincolnshire (2012-13)’ was supported by the AHRC (AH/J005118/1). More information about this project can be found here.



Feast & Fast: Material Culture and Food Memories in Contemporary Cambridge Communities

Between January and October 2019, Dr Victoria Avery and Dr Melissa Calaresu worked with the Fitzwilliam Museum’s Learning and Exhibitions team and three local groups who regularly take part in activities at the museum to create a film that would play a significant role in a major exhibition. ‘Feast & Fast: The Art of Food in Europe, 1500 – 1800’ was held between November 2019 – August 2020 and had an audience of >60,000 prior to the national lock down. The exhibition told the stories of people in early modern Europe coming together to produce, prepare, and consume food. The videos, created with Egg & Spoon Films, capture the groups’ interaction with these stories and with treasured objects from the collection, as they share their own memories of food. The film featured within the exhibition and encouraged visitors to reflect and respond critically and creatively to its themes. In this interview from 2018, Avery, talks about engaging the public with the University’s hidden treasures, about the value of co-curating, and on the role of technology in increasing access. For more information about the films and their impact, read the case study. More information about Feast & Fast can be found here at the exhibition’s website.


The Fitzwilliam Museum’s public engagement and exhibitions work is made possible by a range of funders.