Active Citizenship, Public Engagement and the Humanities: The Victorian Model

 

Resource authors: Eugenio Biagini and Marcella Sutcliffe

This project, Active Citizenship, Public Engagement and the Humanities: The Victorian Model, sought to give historical perspective to contemporary debates surrounding the role of the humanities in civil society. The Study was undertaken by an experienced postdoctoral researcher, with the supervision of a professor in British and European history. The study involved scoping out the state of current research on historicizing the ‘two cultures debate’ and mining London repositories. The Study focused on a case-study, the Working Men’s College. The project highlighted how in the long 19th century the uneasy relationship between liberal and vocational education came to be inextricably interwoven with the emerging debate around the differing value of the humanities and the sciences. Difficulties encountered in the early stages involved understanding the layered meanings of ‘citizenship’ in the Victorian era and negotiating the ‘fuzziness’ of the distinction between the humanities and the sciences in the context of a ‘liberal education’. The relationship between mid-Victorian claims of cross-class ‘fellowship’ and late-Victorian uses of the term ‘active citizenship’ constituted one of the strands of investigation.

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