British Academy/Wolfson Professorships awarded to pioneering SHAPE research

Published: 18 May 2022

The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have today announced five new British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships including the College of Arts' Professor Maria Economou.

The British Academy and the Wolfson Foundation have today announced five new British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships to enable some of the UK’s most outstanding SHAPE (Social Sciences, Humanities and the Arts for People and the Economy) scholars to immerse themselves in research.

First awarded in 2009, the awards give established scholars the opportunity to concentrate on a significant research programme for three years freeing them from normal teaching and administrative commitments. Emphasis is placed on the ability of award holders to communicate their research to a broad audience.

Among this year's British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships is one awarded to the University of Glasgow's Professor Maria Econonou based in Information Studies at School of Humanities | Sgoil nan Daonnachdan and The Hunterian.

Professor Economou was awarded a British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorship for a three-year project starting in September on “Emotional engagement with museum collections through digital storytelling and participatory approaches”. 

The British Academy/Wolfson Research Professorships are offered every three years and it is the first time that we have received one at Glasgow in the face of very tough competition (in total 94 applications were submitted for assessment with an overall success rate of under 5%).

Professor Maria Economou said: "The project will examine how digital storytelling and participatory approaches can be used to encourage in-depth engagement with cultural heritage collections, working with The Hunterian Antonine Wall collections.

"The project explores how co-designing and evaluating collections interpretation with diverse users and stakeholders can support emotional connection and critical reflection. The research investigates both onsite and online engagement, which has been pushed to the fore during the pandemic while physical access to collections and sites has been curtailed, forcing us to re-define traditional museum visiting models. The study will draw a set of recommendations for effective digital interpretation for both researchers and cultural heritage practitioners."

Paul Ramsbottom, Chief Executive of the Wolfson Foundation, said: "The importance of research in the humanities and social sciences is critical to society - and now more than ever. We are therefore delighted to continue our partnership with the British Academy to support another cohort of Wolfson Research Professorships: a benchmark of excellence in both original scholarship and its elegant communication.”

Hetan Shah, Chief Executive of the British Academy, said: “We are delighted to announce another outstanding cohort of British Academy/Wolfson Research Professors. Made possible thanks to the generous support of the Wolfson Foundation, the Professorships will enable five exceptional scholars to undertake innovative and ambitious research into topics including participatory approaches to museum collections and the parochial origins of global conservationism. We wish our new British Academy/Wolfson Professors the greatest success and look forward to seeing the results of their research and public engagement.”

First published: 18 May 2022