Birthday cake
TORCH is celebrating its first birthday this month.
Credit: Shutterstock

Blowing out the candles for TORCH's first birthday

Stuart Gillespie

The Oxford Research Centre in the Humanities (TORCH) was officially launched a year ago. Arts Bloglooks back at 12 months of interdisciplinary research, knowledge exchange and thought-provoking public events...

TORCH was launched in May last year with the aim of stimulating, supporting and promoting high-quality humanities research that would transcend disciplinary boundaries and engage with a wider audience. There are now 18 research networks operating with the support of TORCH, covering subjects as diverse as ancient dance, medieval mysticism, the works of Henrik Ibsen and war crimes investigations. That's in addition to eight major programmes including the recent Humanities and the Public Good series of events and the Digital Humanities initiative.

In short, it has been a busy, exciting and successful 12 months for the Radcliffe Humanities-based centre, which was officially opened a year ago at a launch event attended by the Vice-Chancellor.

Among the highlights was the opening night of the Humanities and the Public Good series, which featured a keynote presentation by Earl Lewis, President of the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, and a round-table discussion on the value of the humanities. The event was the hottest ticket in town on 27 January, with an audience of 450 people packing into Examination Schools (and scores more left disappointed as the venue reached capacity).

The Humanitas Visiting Professor programme also achieved impressive numbers – more than 2,500 people attended the 2013/14 series, which included lectures by the former Archbishop of Canterbury Dr Rowan Williams.

And last month the centre was given a boost with the news it had been awarded more than $560,000 in funding by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation towards the forthcoming Humanities and Science programme.

Dr Stephen Tuck, Director of TORCH, said: 'We have been somewhat astonished and absolutely delighted by the enthusiasm for TORCH and the high quality, originality and importance of so many new interdisciplinary research projects. Taking advantage of the generous grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, we look forward to working with colleagues in the social, life and medical sciences in 2014-15.'