ECHIC 2024 conference

For its annual gathering, ECHIC joined the organisation of Shaping the Future: Rethinking the Role Universities play in International Relations, the second conference of the Knowledge Diplomacy project at the University of London’s Institute in Paris.

Scholars in the humanities are concerned with some of the fundamental aspects that shape a community, such as its language, history, artistic heritage, and worldview. As such, the knowledge they produce can be instrumentalized in a diplomatic context. One only has to consider how research on the Parthenon Sculptures, kept at the British Museum, has been used to both advocate against and in favour of their return to Greece. To consider the relevance of the humanities for diplomatic practice today, it is crucial to take stock of their current condition. New digital techniques are making it possible to ask questions that were previously unthinkable but also threaten some of the core cognitive and practical skills that typify the humanities; the global climate crisis and geopolitical conflicts are prompting scholars to shift their focus to new research areas; and the precariousness of funding, especially for curiosity-drive research, poses significant challenges. In this roundtable, three distinguished scholars from different fields in the humanities will address these challenges in order to reflect on the ways in which the humanities play a role in international affairs.

Helen Small (University of Oxford) is Merton Professor of English Language and Literature at the University of Oxford. She has written widely on literature and philosophy, on the figure of the public moralist, and on the relationship between the Humanities, Sciences, and Social Sciences. She is the author of The Value of the Humanities (2013) and The Function of Cynicism at the Present Time (2020).

Arthur Rose (University of Exeter) a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Exeter. His scholarship focuses on the ways in which the Humanities help us to understand environmental and health crises in the world we live in. A special area of study has been asbestos, which became the focus of his second monograph, Asbestos: The Last Modernist Object (2024).

Daniel Carey (University of Galway) is Chair of the Irish Research Council and Secretary for the Humanities and Social Sciences of the Royal Irish Academy. His publications include studies of the history of science and medicine in the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries, the history of travel and colonialism, and the history and philosophy of money in the Enlightenment. His work has concentrated in particular on the philosophy of John Locke.