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Palgrave Macmillan

The Impact and Future of Arts and Humanities Research

  • Book
  • © 2016


  • Draws on original, empirical research to explore the research landscape within the arts and humanities
  • Offers an international, comparative perspective on this constantly evolving field
  • Provides a bold and accessible overview of the state of humanities research

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About this book

Drawing on original international research by a cross-European social science team, this book makes an important contribution to the discussion about the future of arts and humanities research. It explores the responses of these fields to the growing range of questions being asked about the value, impact and benefit of publicly-funded research. The objective is to better understand what really matters rather than what is easily measured.

The book increases our understanding of the contribution which university-based arts and humanities research makes to society and the economy by exploring how it is defined, appreciated and accounted for by researchers, policymakers and civil society. It identifies appropriate practices and methodologies to assess and demonstrate quality and value beyond the academy. The book will be essential reading for researchers and policymakers, as well as research organisations and anyone interested in the arts and humanities.

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Table of contents (7 chapters)

  1. Setting Out the Debate

  2. The Public Value of Arts and Humanities Research: National Experiences and Stakeholder Views

  3. Policy Challenges for Arts and Humanities Research for the Twenty-First Century


“In the rush to measure the value of higher education in terms of skills, impact and innovation the role of the arts and humanities can get overlooked - or reduced to their supposed support for the creative and cultural industries. This study of their future in three European countries is a welcome corrective to this linear and instrumentalised view. It ably demonstrates the complexity of their links to the economy, society and culture.” (Peter Scott, Chair of Higher Education Studies, UCL Institute of Education, UK)

“The question of 'what is the public value of arts and humanities research?’ has become a fundamental concern for societies across the world. The Impact and Future of Arts and Humanities Research provides an essential overview of the political-economic processes surrounding the emergence of this question. This alone represents a vital intervention for those seeking to understand the debate. Moreover, writing neither as advocates nor critics of arts and humanities research, the authors compare and contrast differing positions in European nations’  policy towards the arts and humanities, offering a new understanding of ‘impact' and, ultimately, a manifesto for the defence of arts and humanities in contemporary society.” (Dave O’Brien, Senior Lecturer in Cultural Policy, Goldsmith’s College, University of London, UK)

“This timely book gives a new perspective on the current challenges and the role of Arts and Humanities research, enlightening us with useful clues about how interpret their valuable contribution.” (Susana Borrás, Professor of Innovation and Governance at the Department of Business and Politics, Copenhagen Business School, Denmark)

“Not only does The Impact and Future of Arts and Humanities Research fill a gap in the literature it essentially creates a new literature.  While a great deal of resources have been poured into questions related to impacts of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) research, including but not predominantly focusing on public and social impacts, almost no parallel work is available for arts and humanities research.  Inasmuch as arts and humanities research is much better rationalized in terms of public values and social impact as opposed to economic productivity criteria, the focus seems useful not only for its direct purpose but also to advance our ability to conceptualize and ultimately measure public impacts of all research.  This is a compelling and high quality book written by creative, critical thinkers.” (Barry Bozeman, Director of the Center of Organizational Research and Design, Arizona State University, USA)

“Is Arts and Humanities scholarship pointless? Do they have social or economic benefits? Can they be measured?  Should they be measured? Does such measurement demonstrate they are worth funding? The popularity of these questions seem to never wane, certainly not in times of austerity and diminishing research budgets across much of the world. Several articles, editorials, books and essays have been published in the past thirty years on the topic. Yet, very few display the theoretical and empirical rigour, the lucidity and clarity of analysis that Hazelkorn, Benneworth and Gulbrandsen bring to the consideration of the social benefits of Arts and Humanities research, which are considered in their broader context of social, cultural and political change in the 20th and 21st century. The Impact and Future of Arts and Humanities Research is an important read for Arts and Humanities academics, HE policy specialists, university administrators and for anyone who is fascinated by the ways in which research makes its way in the ‘real’ world.” (Eleonora Belfiore, Professor of Communication and Media Studies, Loughborough University, UK)

Authors and Affiliations

  • Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, Enschede, The Netherlands

    Paul Benneworth

  • University of Oslo, Oslo, Norway

    Magnus Gulbrandsen

  • Higher Education Policy Research Unit, Dublin Institute of Technology, Dublin, Ireland

    Ellen Hazelkorn

About the authors

Ellen Hazelkorn is Policy Advisor to the Higher Education Authority, and Emeritus Professor/Director, Higher Education Policy Research Unit, Dublin Institute of Technology, Ireland. She publishes widely on higher education policy. Rankings and the Reshaping of Higher Education: The Battle for World-Class Excellence was published in 2015. 

Paul Benneworth is Senior Researcher, Center for Higher Education Policy Studies, University of Twente, the Netherlands, and Scientific Leader of the EU-funded Eunivation project. His research concerns relationships between universities and society in the knowledge economy, and understanding the dynamics between these different spheres.

Magnus Gulbrandsen is Professor at TIK/Centre for Technology, Innovation and Culture, University of Oslo, Norway, and Adjunct Senior Researcher, Nordic Institute for Studies in Innovation, Research and Education. His research concerns research quality, collaboration, commercialisation and internationalisation. He leads the Research Council of Norway-funded Centre of Excellence on Research Impact.

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