The Humanitas Programme of Visiting Professorships at the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge was envisioned by the late Lord Weidenfeld as a platform for promoting interdisciplinary dialogue, innovation and research in the arts, humanities and social sciences. An indefatigable visionary he saw the Programme as a way to keep academic discourse relevant and open to the public but above all he saw its value in bringing people together to talk, to listen and to hear.
The Programme was established in 2010 and over the next eight years brought to both Universities some of the most influential and distinguished academics and practitioners who have generously shared their ideas and expertise on a broad range of subjects.
With the support of a wide range of donors, including private individuals, family foundations, and corporations, Humanitas Programme hosted 92 Visiting Professors and more than 300 events in such fields as Statecraft and Diplomacy, Historiography, Media, Sustainability Studies, Contemporary Art, Classical Music and Women’s Rights to name just a few.
Inviting the audience to engage with the complex ideas, to challenge commonly held perceptions and to celebrate society’s diversity and commonality, Visiting Professors included Jared Diamond, Tom Stoppard, Shirin Neshat, Simon Schama, Martti Ahtisaari, Vanessa Redgrave, Xu Bing, Eric Schmidt, William Kentridge and Renee Fleming amongst many others.
It is hard to overestimate the impact that live events, face to face meetings and open conversations have on the audience and over the last eight years we have received numerous thanks for making the talks so accessible and open to all. However, no less important is the Programme’s on-line legacy of filmed lectures and ‘in conversation’ events. With many videos enjoying dozens of thousands views and some well above 100,000. The Humanitas Programme has reached well above half a million people worldwide. Robert Levin’s illustrated lecture on improvising Mozart has already been seen by more than 170,000 people, Shirin Neshat’s lecture by more than 100,000 people and Mitsuko Uchida’s masterclass by 138,000.
One of the unique advantages of the Programme has always been its firm academic grounding thanks to a group of leading academics from Oxford and Cambridge who have been closely involved in the conception and organisation of each individual series. The commitment, dedication and hard work of many people at both Universities has gone into making it a recognised success.
Ideas, relationships, academic works and works of art that might have been inspired by the Humanitas events will add to the rich and lasting legacy of the late George Weidenfeld.
We would like to thank our donors and partners for their assistance in bringing the Humanitas series of events to a wide audience.