The Human Mind Project highlights the contribution of the arts and humanities to the study of human nature, and the importance of a comprehensive, interdisciplinary approach to understanding the mind, integrating science and the humanities.
The project was launched in December 2013 in London, after the establishment of an Advisory Board, composed of leading experts from a broad range of disciplines across the arts and humanities as well as the cognitive and social sciences, from the UK and overseas. The group will discuss and document the present landscape of research on the mind, making a coordinated, international effort to define the major intellectual challenges in understanding the nature and significance of the human mind.
As one of the Central Academic Initiatives of the School of Advanced Study at the University of London, The Human Mind Project is led by neuroscientist Colin Blakemore and is housed in Senate House, Malet Street, London WC1E 7HU.
HEFCE Catalyst Fund Press Release
The Human Mind Project, hosted by the University of London’s School of Advanced Study (SAS), has received a significant boost from the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE), to help move it on from its pilot phase.
A substantial grant from HEFCE’s Catalyst Fund will enable the Project’s team to fulfil its objective of promoting a highly innovative approach to the study of the mind across conventional disciplinary boundaries.
Launched in December 2013, The Human Mind Project is an international effort to define the major intellectual challenges in understanding the nature and significance of the human mind. The new funding will support an ambitious plan of research facilitation, publications, consultation and programme of academic and outreach activities. The Project will be guided by a steering group from University College London and the universities of Durham, Oxford, Sussex and Cambridge, as well as SAS.
Dr Mattia Gallotti, the Project’s manager, said: ‘We are thrilled to move into the next phase, and to expand the agenda of The Human Mind Project, which the School of Advanced Study has sponsored during its pilot phase. The grant from the Catalyst Fund will allow us to establish an unprecedented form of debate and dialogue, aimed at identifying new opportunities for future interdisciplinary research to integrate knowledge about the mind’.
The Human Mind Project will draw on the experience and wisdom of a large and distinguished advisory board, representing a multitude of relevant fields across the arts and humanities as well as natural and social sciences. The Project will complement and supplement major research programmes in the United States and Europe aimed at understanding human behaviour and cognition in terms of brain function. It will bring broad experience from the arts and humanities into the context of efforts to account for the neural basis of the mind.
‘Neuroscience is increasingly focusing on mechanistic accounts and computational simulations of what have traditionally been thought of as “mental” processes, such as perception, thought, memory and decision-making’, said Sir Colin Blakemore, the Project’s leader. ‘This trend in neuroscience is exciting, but it’s important that its goals should be properly specified. The Human Mind Project aims to promote debate between scientists and scholars in the arts and humanities, with their knowledge about the richness and diversity of human culture. We hope to define the big questions for future interdisciplinary research on the mind.’
The Project will provide an interactive forum for leading experts to conceptualise the mind and, where possible, define its relationship to the brain through a wide consultative process underpinned by new forms of web-based dialogue. This will include interaction with a parallel cohort of students, younger researchers and the wider public; and through a ‘Grand Challenge’ exercise aimed at identifying opportunities for novel interdisciplinary research.
Dr David Sweeney, director of research, education and knowledge exchange at HEFCE said: ‘The Catalyst Fund enables HEFCE to deliver our strategic aims for higher education across research, teaching and knowledge exchange. One objective is to build capacity for research to tackle new fields of enquiry. We hope that The Human Mind Project will be a beacon for collaboration between the arts and the sciences, and that it will define and promote new opportunities for interdisciplinary research on the human mind.’
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Notes for editors:
1. For further information, please contact: Maureen McTaggart, Media and Public Relations Officer, School of Advanced Study, University of London +44 (0)20 7862 8653 / Maureen.firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. The School of Advanced Study (SAS), University of London, is the UK’s national centre for the promotion and support of research in the humanities and celebrates its 20th anniversary in 2015. It was officially opened on 15 March 1995, by Sir Anthony Kenny as a federation of the University of London’s research institutes and, since then, has established itself as the UK’s national humanities hub, publicly funded to support and promote research in the humanities nationally and internationally. SAS and its member institutes offer unparalleled academic opportunities, facilities and stimulation across a wide range of subject areas for the benefit of the national and international scholarly community. In 2013-14, SAS: welcomed 743 research fellows and associates; held 2,081 research dissemination events; received 26.4 million visits to its digital research resources and platforms; and received 202,891 visits to its specialist libraries and collections. The School also leads the UK’s only nationwide festival of the humanities: Being Human. Find out more at www.sas.ac.uk or follow SAS on Twitter at @SASNews.
3. The Institute of Philosophy was founded in 2005, building upon and developing the work of the Philosophy Programme from 1995–2005. The institute’s mission is to promote and support philosophy of the highest quality in all its forms, both inside and outside the university, and across the UK. Its activities divide into three kinds: events, fellowships and research facilitation. The Institute of Philosophy is a member institute of the School of Advanced Study, University of London. www.philosophy.sas.ac.uk
4. The Centre for the Study of the Senses (Censes) at the Institute of Philosophy has an international scientific board comprising philosophers, psychologists and neuroscientists. The aim of the centre is to foster interdisciplinary research on the senses by identifying research groupings to pursue specialised topics of benefit to the participating disciplines. Censes is leading a major research project, Rethinking the Senses, funded under the Arts & Humanities Research Council’s ‘Science in Culture’ theme. www.philosophy.sas.ac.uk/centres/censes
5. The Human Mind Project is an interdisciplinary, international project based at the Institute of Philosophy’s Centre for the Study of the Senses. Launched in December 2013, it aims to define the major intellectual challenges in understanding the nature and significance of the human mind. It will highlight the contribution of the arts and humanities to the study of human nature, and the importance of a comprehensive and interdisciplinary approach to the study of the mind, integrating science and the humanities. www.humanmindproject.ac.uk
6. The HEFCE Catalyst Fund supports innovative and exceptional activity across the higher education sector in teaching, research and knowledge exchange. The fund provides investment in projects which will achieve major strategic changes and provide ongoing benefits for higher education and wider society that would not happen without additional support. www.hefce.ac.uk/funding/catalyst/