Spotlight on Arts and Humanities

Arts and humanities have provided useful lenses to reflect on big societal challenges for centuries now although their immense contribution to society tends to be overlooked sometimes.

The Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance(SAHA) was created to highlight their sustained relevance as sources of inspiration, reflection and critical thinking.

The Alliance is a joint initiative of eleven higher education institutions, including the University of Glasgow, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.

SAHA aims to provide a collective platform to promote the rich intellectual contribution of arts and humanities to important topical debates such as the economic and societal recovery post-Covid, education policy, the environment and climate change as well as digital futures and the cultural economy.

The Alliance’s work will also seek to inform government policy and promote the latest achievements in arts and humanities both within the sector and for the wider public. Under SAHA’s remit, connections will be developed with relevant similar bodies at UK and wider European and international levels, to promote ongoing work in arts and humanities in Scotland, and to link its effectiveness to wider agendas.

Scottish research is among the most highly cited in the world per capita, with 2% of globally highly cited publications from far less than 0.1% of global population.

At the end of 2020, SAHA organised a series of digital events to mark the soft launch of the Alliance.

These virtual roundtables, gathering speakers from SAHA member organisations, focused on the three of the areas that SAHA has identified as priorities for its first years of activity: education, climate change and post-Covid futures. The recordings of these videos are available here. A fourth area of interest added recently is that of digital technologies and the cultural economy. To facilitate the development of activities for these core themes, SAHA members have created dedicated working groups.

SAHA also aims to encourage new research projects that align with its general mission. This November, the first SAHA Postdoctoral Fellow will join the Institute for Advanced Studies in the Humanities, at the University of Edinburgh. During his fellowship, Dr Timothy Riding will develop research on decolonizing the Scottish secondary education curriculum.  

SAHA’s activity is guided by the two Co-Chairs Prof Murray Pittock (Pro-Vice Principal - Special Projects, University of Glasgow) and Professor Catherine O’Leary (University of St Andrews), as well as a steering committee formed by representatives from each of the participating members.

In addition to Professor Pittock, the University of Glasgow is represented on the steering committee by Prof Dauvit Brounfrom the School of Humanities / Sgoil nan Daonnachdan and the Director of the Scottish Graduate School for the Arts and Humanities Professor Claire Squires.


You can get involved by following SAHA on Twitter and Facebook, and participating in SAHA events.

For any enquiries about SAHA’s activities please contact Dr Cristina Clopot, SAHA Policy and Communications Officer at cclopot@therse.org.uk. Updates on ongoing projects and achievements, to be shared on social media channels, are also welcome.

Visit SAHA’s webpage at: https://www.rse.org.uk/policy/standing-committees/scottish-arts-humanities-alliance/

First published: 8 October 2021