The Global Humanities Network, established in 2020, has one simple but ambitious aim: to permanently transform the way we teach, research and think about the Humanities. The network, anchored at Cambridge University, brings together leading universities from around the world. Besides Cambridge: Fudan and Nanjing Universities in China, Ashoka University in India, the American University of Beirut in Lebanon, the University of Cape Town in South Africa, Universidad Diego Portales in Chile, and Sabanci University in Turkey. One of the most uplifting developments of the last few decades is the emergence of high quality, vibrant universities in all these regions. We want to be part of new conversations and new modes of thinking through multilateral engagements. All partner institutions are committed to the belief that deep and enduring engagement with each other is now more than ever essential to create new, genuinely global, perspectives on the most pressing issues the world currently faces, ranging from climate change, the polarization of society, violent conflict and its legacies, economic inequality within and between societies, identity clashes, and the impact of new technologies and new media. We aim to enable new thinking about our collective futures by re-examining together all our pasts. Only in that way will be able to provide our students with the diverse, globally aware curriculum for which they now clamour insistently. And only in that will be able to renew our writing, lecturing, and thinking.
The Humanities are precious. They are an archive some three millennia old of how people have conceived of, critiqued, and modelled themselves, of how they have thought about the universe, their societies, and themselves, and of how that thinking has been expressed and produced change. It is a vibrant chronicle of what it is and what it could be to be human. Without an awareness of that history, no real new thinking is possible. The Humanities have often been at the forefront of the most profound change. The wealth generated by new social media was the result of new technologies, for sure, but also of new ideas about our desires and aspirations and the networks to which we wanted to belong. Our emphasis is on discovering, understanding, and critiquing multiple, distinct, and intersecting worlds and showing how these remain vibrant and compelling today. We examine history, culture, and the arts through multiple lenses. We break down the walls that have grown up between disciplines that have their origins in nineteenth century European academia. We also seek to transcend Cold War ways of dividing the world in regions such as East Asia, South Asia, and the Middle East. We fundamentally reject such territorial and bounded ways of thinking. They were of a particular time and have made us blind to connections, interactions and even productive disruptions between cultures.
As a response to the profound challenges of our own times and as an expression of hope in the possibility of a better future, the Global Humanities Network pursues a broad scope of activities. We bring researchers and students together virtually to discuss, debate and share new ideas, perspectives and approaches on themes of global significance and importance to humanity. During the pandemic we conducted a six-month symposium with leading thinkers on critical themes to assess the place and future of globalisation, the potential and pessimisms that confront humanity and, above all, how our diverse cultural, historical and intellectual tools might help forge a more hopeful future. We have also instituted a faculty mobility programme for the network and are planning various and new research and teaching initiatives based on collaboration across contexts and continents. We are developing a Global Humanities Certificate aimed at Masters Students. It will be taught by partner faculty members together and will bring participating students to Cambridge at the first instance for a three-week summer school. The aim is for students to graduate with a ready-made network of global connections, equipped to act as global leaders in their specialization, and at ease in working in a variety of cultural settings. The essence of what we do, then, is to bring students and faculty together in new ways to create the global connections, the structures, and the energy that will enable radical new ways of engaging in and directing the Humanities for the benefit of all.