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Utrecht University Humanities Graduate Conference

Conference 2019 Theme

Utrecht University Humanities Conference 2019 presents:

What’s the point?

Impact, and the future of the Humanities

11/04/2019 – 12/04/2019

A conference aimed at humanities research master students and PhDs at Utrecht University and beyond.

Over the past decade, all the different disciplines within the humanities have experienced the same pressure at some point. The pressure to justify their own existence. With the ongoing budget cuts and the explicit attacks to their epistemological function from political and societal actors, the humanities were asked to state their own value. ‘Why should research that provides only opinions rather than verifiable knowledge deserve our money’, they ask. Rather than answering those with an ignorance or animosity towards the study of culture and the human condition, we would like to rephrase the question, and ask those who have just started practising that study: How are the humanities valuable for society?

With this conference, we would like to explore all the ways in which the humanities can contribute to science and society, as well as the meta questions on the necessity of value and valorization,  and the (im)possibility of the evaluation of knowledge production. Paradoxically, while the issue of knowledge utilization is a recurring concern, over 80 percent of MA students and Ph.D. candidates end up working in the industry, policy or public administration. This shouldn’t even surprise us since the abilities to produce knowledge – in the broadest sense of the word -, critically engage with it, and explain and frame the possibilities for utility and impact, are indispensable skills for humanities scholars. Inevitably, we’ll also touch upon the broader issue of the future of humanities research and its current state.

This conference invites contributions from research master students and Ph.D. candidates from all the disciplines in the humanities, to analyze and reflect on the twinned issues of the impact and knowledge utilization, whether within their own field of research or that of humanities research in general. All disciplines within each of our four research schools have different approaches. Just as they provide their own opportunities to deal with the issues of knowledge production, utilization, and impact. Hearing about initiatives from other disciplines, and the opportunities they generate provides us with a broader perspective and new insights.