Professor Murray Pittock
Please tell us about the background to the Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance
Scotland has a thriving arts and humanities sector, which contributes in manifold ways to different sectors of the economy, to our social, cultural and political life. Scottish research is among the most highly cited in the world per capita, with 2% of globally highly cited publications from far less than 0.1% of global population. Arts and humanities departments provide essential training and upskilling for many sectors of the Scottish economy. Work across the sector is essential to help us grapple with major societal challenges as well to better understand our past, present and future. While there is much to celebrate, it is also true that this work is fragmented across the sector and prior to the establishment of SAHA, no umbrella body existed.
To this end, the Scottish Arts and Humanities Alliance (SAHA) was created to provide a shared platform for arts and humanities in Scotland. The Alliance took inspiration from the excellent work that the Irish Humanities Alliance has been doing in Ireland for a number of years. SAHA aims to represent Scottish arts and humanities, to promote the excellent work taking place in different institutions, and to advocate on behalf of its members. Through its activities it aims to highlight the sustained relevance of arts and humanities as sources of inspiration, reflection and critical thinking. The Alliance brings together higher education institutions, the Royal Society of Edinburgh and the Scottish Graduate School of Arts and Humanities.
How would you describe the work that SAHA does?
SAHA seeks to provide a collective platform to promote the rich intellectual contribution of arts and humanities more generally, but for its first years of activity the Alliance will focus on four key themes: the economic and societal recovery post-Covid, education policy, the environment and climate change as well as digital futures and the cultural economy. The Alliance also seeks to inform and provide access to the latest thinking on research and education in arts & humanities for policy makers at national and UK level. Another area of activity is focused on developing links with similar bodies at UK, European and international levels.
SAHA has developed a dedicated podcast series, the SAHA Conversations. The podcasts celebrate Arts & Humanities in Scotland by inviting reflections from guests who work in different industries: from business to design, from politics to media and many others. The invitees have been able to witness first-hand the impact of arts & humanities in their line of work. Further activities, including some exciting events, are planned under the umbrella of SAHA for 2022-23 and will be announced in due course.
SAHA’s activity is guided by two Co-Chairs, Prof Murray Pittock (Pro-Vice Principal – Special Projects and Bradley Chair of English Literature, University of Glasgow) and Prof Catherine O’Leary (Professor of Spanish, University of St Andrews), as well as a steering committee formed by representatives from each of the participating members. Read more about SAHA’s membership here.
Professor Catherine O’Leary
Why did you choose .scot as a key part of your internet identity?
In 2021, the SAHA steering board decided to develop a dedicated communication channel to bring together information about the organisation as well as its activities in one place. Following a proposal from a committee member, the coordinating body unanimously decided to use a .scot domain to host the new website.
As an organization that aims to represent Scottish Arts and Humanities both at national and international level, choosing a dedicated .scot domain further emphasized the remit of our work. It also aligned our activity with other national organisations that have chosen a .scot account. It, moreover, connected us symbolically to the rich culture and heritage of Scotland that has provided the inspiration and focus for many of the activities of our members.
Read more about our work at SAHA here: https://saha.scot.