RHS Council members visit historians at the University of Hertfordshire

17 October 2023

On Monday 16 October, members of the Society’s Council visited historians in the School of Creative Arts at the University of Hertfordshire. The Visit is the latest in this autumn’s series of meetings with historians at universities across the UK.

The day brought together historians from the School with members of the Society’s Council. An opening session explored how the RHS can best work with and support historians. Topics included advocacy for history with politicians and policy makers; promoting the value of a history degree to prospective students, and their parents; employability for history graduates, and the importance of skills acquired for professional life in the mid-late 2020s; and the relationship of history to heritage studies.

The latter was central to a second session discussing distinctive features of Hertfordshire’s history programme. These included the department’s close relationships with external heritage groups, via its Heritage Hub, led by Katrina Navickas. This session also discussed the university’s Professional Doctorate in Heritage (DHeritage), run by Grace Lees-Maffei, which enables heritage professionals to undertake doctoral research; and the university’s pioneering MA in Folklore Studies, led by Owen Davies, Ceri Houlbrook and Leanne Calvert.

The visit concluded with a public lecture by our guest speakers — Elaine Farrell (Queen’s University Belfast) and Leanne McCormick (Ulster) — on ‘Naming and Shaming? Telling Bad Bridget Stories’. Elaine and Leanne’s lecture considered historians’ moral responsibilities to individuals discovered in institutional records who gave no consent to being remembered or discussed in historical research.

Many thanks to Elaine and Leanne, and all those who attended their lecture. Our thanks also to Jen Evans and William Bainbridge, and colleagues from the history department, for organising and hosting the visit.

Hertfordshire is the fifth visit by the Society this year, following previous events at Edge Hill, Northampton, Kent and Canterbury Christ Church and the Highlands & Islands.

RHS visits resume in 2024 with days at the universities of York and York St John (13 March) and Brunel (23 May) which include public lectures by Fay Bound Alberti (King’s College London) and Corinne Fowler (Leicester) respectively. Further details of these visits will be released in due course.